Cyprus police have arrested two foreign nationals in connection with a suspected illegal search for antiquities underwater.
According to local media, a 44-year-old Norwegian man and a 37-year-old American, have been arrested by Cypriot authorities, suspected of searching for the shipwreck of Cesnola's Napried.
Police spotted a vessel connected to the two male suspects, believed to be taking part in illegal underwater exploration in search of the Napried, which was rumoured to have sunk in an unknown location after it departed Beirut in 1872.
Cypriot authorities are now asking Europol to assist in the investigation to examine whether the two men could be working for other agents overseas
The arrest came following information that officials from the Transport Ministry relayed to police regarding the alleged activities of the two suspects, according to local media. A number of items including computer servers were confiscated during a search.
Luigi Palma di Cesnola, an Italian-born American diplomat was appointed American consul in Cyprus in 1865. He was also an amateur self-funded archaeologist who amassed an unrivaled collection of Cypriot antiquities through extensive excavations and by purchase.
The Napried was a vessel contracted by Cesnola to transport his collection, including Cypriot artifacts, which arranged at the time legally within laws of Ottoman provinces.
But following the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, member states have sought to preserve and protect material from shipwreck sites as well as block commercial exploitation.
Cypriot authorities are now asking Europol to assist in the investigation to examine whether the two men could be working for other agents overseas.
The Cesnola Collection, which was pivotal when the Metropolitan Museum opened in New York in 1880, is vast in size and diversity but also for in terms of chronology, ranging from the Early Bronze Age to the end of antiquity.