The American ship in question may well contain millions of dollars in gold to which the Spanish have a legal claim to a share under international law. From the UK's Channel Four news:
The Odyssey Explorer was leaving Gibraltar when its path was blocked and the Navy threatened to open fire.Nice attitude there from Mr. Nessar on behalf of Odyssey Marine Exploration. Either he is dealing in last-ditch bluster or he honestly believes an American vessel has the right, under the unspoken laws of American exceptionalism, to refuse to allow Spanish law enforcement officials with probable cause to come aboard and search. If the latter, he's likely to find himself arguing his point down the barrel of a special forces gun.
The ship is owned by the American company Odyssey Marine Exploration, which says it has legally discovered gold and silver coins worth an estimated $500 million (£246 million) while working on a wreck code-named Black Swan at a secret site in the Atlantic.
Spanish officials suspect the treasure was recovered from Spanish waters or from a Spanish galleon in international waters and either would mean Spain is entitled to profit.
The ship has been docked at the British Naval base in Gibraltar since May, under threat of arrest if it left the colony.
When it left dock, Spanish police said they had a court order to search the vessel and ordered the captain to sail to the Spanish port of Algeciras.
Ali Nessar, a company representative on board the ship, said: "They threatened that we must obey or they would use deadly force. We were forced at gunpoint to come to Algeciras."
He insists police will not be allowed to search the ship when they dock.
He said: "We are not going to allow them on board."
In July, Spanish police stopped and searched another Odyssey Marine Exploration ship and confiscated computer hard drives from the crew and journalists.
I wonder what the Bush administration, staunch defenders of the notion that no American abroad should be capable of prosecution for even the most heinous crimes, will have to say?