Back in January, four U.S. prisoners were released from captivity in Iran, among them a Washington Post reporter who had been detained for a year-and-a-half.
The negotiations came as part of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and included the release of several Iranian prisoners the U.S. held.
But did it also included some cold, hard cash?
Maybe. The Wall Street Journal has a scoop on a secret payment to Iran before the release of the U.S. Hostages.
Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17—without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.
Coincidence. TOTAL COINCIDENCE said the State Department.
“As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years
After the report came out, the White House also denied it. From The Hill:
“No, it was not,” said press secretary Josh Earnest when asked if the money constituted a ransom. “It is against the policy of the United States to pay ransom for hostages.”
The spokesman blamed the furor over the payment on Republican lawmakers who are “flailing” to explain why they’re against the controversial nuclear pact with Tehran.
“The facts of this are quite clear,” he said. “And it’s an indication of just how badly opponents of the Iran deal are struggling to justify their opposition to a successful deal that has prevented and continues to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
Iran, for their part, said it was a straight up mother fucking robbery.
A senior Iranian military official has publicly stated that the clearing of the $1.7 billion was a key factor in Tehran’s decision to release the imprisoned Americans, most of whom were charged with espionage.
“Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies and doesn’t have to do with the [nuclear] talks,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza-Naghdi, commander of Iran’s powerful Basij militia, in state media on Wednesday. “The way to take our rights back from the arrogants [Americans] is to become powerful, and we must grow stronger and stronger every day.”
According to reports, Iran was originally seeking $10 billion from the U.S. in and international court at The Hague. So, there’s that.
But yea. It was probably a ransom payment.