CARACAS, Venezuela -- An American cargo ship captain has been freed without charge after being detained last week at a port in this South American country, a U.S. Embassy official said Monday.
The captain of the Ocean Atlas had been detained on Thursday after authorities found three assault rifles on the vessel. U.S. officials have said that the weapons were on the ship as a standard security measure to protect the vessel from attacks by pirates.
"Charges have been dropped, but there's still paperwork to be completed so the boat has not sailed away," Gregory Adams, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, told The Associated Press. "The captain is back on the ship with the crew."
Adams said that once paperwork is completed, the captain and the other 14 American crew members of the 120-meter (396-foot) vesse can set sail from the western port of Maracaibo.
The vessel's operator, Intermarine LLC, and Venezuelan Interior Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.
President Hugo Chavez said last month that Venezuelan authorities detained another U.S. citizen and were interrogating him because they suspected him of being a "mercenary." Chavez, a virulent critic of U.S. policies, said the American could be involved in a plot to destabilize the country if the opposition loses the Oct. 7 presidential election, but provided no details. The man remains in custody.
Also on HuffPost:
Cuba's Fidel Castro (R) greets Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) 16 November 1999 in Havana before the ninth Iberoamerican Summit. (JORGE UZON/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (L) hugs his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika following their meeting, 15 August 2000 in Algiers. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Saud
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) hugs Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Saud during the official photo session at the end of the OPEC II Summit of oil producing countries in Caracaas 28 September, 2000. (OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (R) after a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow 14 May 2001. (YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev wave from the deck of the Udaloy-class anti-submarine vessel Admiral Chabanenko on November 27, 2008 at the port of La Guardia, 30 km from Caracas. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L), shakes hand with Chinese President Hu Jintao during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People on April 8, 2009 in Beijing, China. (Minoru Iwasaki-Pool/Getty Images)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chaves (R) talks to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) at the closing of the Third OPEC Summit , November 18, 2007 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images)
Evo Morales, Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner
Presidents Hugo Chavez (Venezuela)(L-R) , Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina) and Evo Morales (Bolivia) during Ecuador's President Rafael Correa swearing-in ceremony of his second term on August 10, 2009. in Quito, Ecuador. (Cesar Morejon/LatinContent/Getty Images)