Emtrasur CEO César Pérez said in an interview that the Iranian crew members of the company's Boeing 747-300 seized at the Ezeiza International Airport were flight instructors and that the scandal that has unfolded was ridiculous.
The Venezuelan company Emtrasur is a cargo subsidiary of the state-owned Conviasa and the aircraft used to belong to Iranian carrier Mahan Air. It remains to be determined whether it had been sold to Emtrasur or if it was merely on a wet lease (a rental procedure that includes the crew).
Pérez made these remarks from Caracas in a Zoom call with Venezuelan reporter Orlenys Ortiz and Emtrasur's finance manager Mario Arraga, who was aboard the plane and is therefore banned from leaving Argentina pending further inquiries.
Perez maintained that he found it ridiculous that in Argentina they are scandalized by the arrival of the crew of 14 Venezuelans and 5 Iranians, who are staying at a hotel in the Ezeiza area.
Pérez and Arraga both dodged the issue of the evidence overwhelming linking the Iranian crew to the Quds Force and probably to arms deals. Arraga did explain, however, that the presence of the Asian pilots has always been limited to the flight instruction phase, while his own stemmed from the fact that it was the carrier's first flight to Argentina and links with local officials at various levels needed to be established, according to Pérez.
We have nothing to hide and everything they find will be a reflection of what we are, workers who are part of a flagship company and spearhead of cargo in the region, Arraga went on.
Meanwhile, an undocumented Iranian man has been arrested in the province of Entre Ríos while making arrangements to travel to Uruguay. He barely speaks English. Apparently with a DNI of a person from Corrientes and registration from Buenos Aires. He claimed to be Iranian. Could he be a flight instructor?, opposition JxC Congressman Gerardo Milman said on Twitter.
According to Government sources, the suspect would not be in his right mind, it was reported.
The arrest was made when a bus driver heard him say something strange and alerted the police. It was then that the authorities discovered that he had false documentation. He was carrying a driver's license of a person from Buenos Aires and an ID card of another person from Corrientes.
According to an uncorroborated report, he claimed to be ”Asan Azad, 28 years old, date of birth 16/05/1994, born in Iran, Iranian nationality, son of Azan Ramazan (father) and Zara Rivan (mother), but other local media sources mentioned he could be an Iraqi national who had acquired Iranian citizenship.
The suspect has also been arrested before in Argentina, in the province of La Rioja, where he claimed to be a Palestinian. On that occasion, he had told Migration officials that he traveled by plane from Tehran in 2016, arriving 12 days later in Venezuela. From there he tried to get Venezuelan citizenship, failing to obtain it, he traveled to Ecuador,” where he also applied for citizenship, but the process took too long he lost all his papers. From there he traveled to Peru and Bolivia and walked into Argentina at the end of 2021, of which there is no record.