Navy SEALs successfully raided the Libyan tanker Morning Glory. / JUAN DAVID GUERRA, AFP/Getty Images
The three Libyans accused of hijacking a tanker loaded with oil remain under U.S. control as an American warship escorts the tanker back toward Libyan shores, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
The Navy plans to transfer the men to the Libyan navy in international waters before reaching Libyan waters, said a Defense official who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the operation.
The tanker was boarded Sunday by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs at the request of the Libyan and Cypriot governments.
The Libyan government said the three men, who are linked to Libyan militias, attempted to steal oil belonging to the central government.
Libya's navy requested U.S. assistance after failing to prevent the ship from leaving the port of Sidra on the Mediterranean Sea.
The tanker Morning Glory, described by the Pentagon as a stateless ship, and its civilian crew of about 21 people will also be turned over to Libyan authorities.
The U.S. Navy commandos seized control of the ship without a shot fired. Two assault weapons were found onboard.
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