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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
US treasure ship captain is freed
The Odyssey Explorer is led into the port of Algeciras on 16 October 2007
The captain is accused of resisting a search of his vessel
The skipper of a treasure-hunting boat intercepted by a Spanish warship this week in a dispute over gold and silver from a sunken galleon has been bailed.

Sterling Vorus, the American captain of the Odyssey Explorer, was released by a judge in Algeciras, southern Spain.

The Spanish Navy blocked the salvage ship after it left Gibraltar on Tuesday and threatened to open fire when the captain refused to let police aboard.

In May, Odyssey found shipwreck booty estimated to be worth $500m (245m).

After a tense standoff when it left the British port of Gibraltar, Spanish civil guards boarded and searched the vessel.

The Odyssey was then escorted to Algeciras, where the captain was arrested.

'Modern pirates'

Mr Vorus, who is accused of disobeying authority by resisting a judicial search of his vessel, has been freed on condition he present himself every fortnight to the judicial authorities.

Odyssey Marine Explorations - which owns the salvage ship - claims it found the 17th Century galleon in international waters.

But Spanish Culture Minister Antonio Molina on Wednesday said the Florida-based firm was made up of "modern pirates".

Map of Spain and Gibraltar

He told reporters: "We will pursue them wherever they are. It is a question of national pride and patriotism."

Madrid suspects the sunken treasure galleon may either have been Spanish or have gone down in Spanish waters.

The American firm will only reveal the wreck - codenamed Black Swan - is somewhere in the Atlantic and says it is keeping the location secret to deter looters.

Odyssey said it flew all of the 17-tonne treasure haul from Gibraltar back to Florida in May.

The salvaged trove includes half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold objects.

In July Spanish police searched another ship belonging to Odyssey, the Ocean Alert, after it left Gibraltar.



SEE ALSO
Spain targets US treasure ships
05 Jun 07 |  Europe
Record wreck 'found off Cornwall'
19 May 07 |  Cornwall
Shipwreck yields record treasures
18 May 07 |  Americas
US shipwreck could yield millions
18 Aug 03 |  Americas

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