Around the same time that four detained Americans, including one journalist and one former Marine, were released by Iran back in January, a U.S. cargo plane flew into Tehran carrying about $400 million worth of currency, a claim that the Obama administration denies.
First reported by the Wall Street Journal, it’s believed that the Obama administration secretly made this payment- the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement that was made with Iran- during the same time that the American prisoners were scheduled for released, but officials claim that was merely coincidental and are in no way related to each other.
“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,” John Kirby, the State Department spokesman said to The Wall Street Journal.
The claim Kirby is referring to is one over a failed 1979 arms deal that was signed right before the Iranian Revolution.
“Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side,” Kirby said.
Others are calling foul, claiming that this hidden transaction was a ransom the U.S. paid in order to gain the freedom of those four American hostages, freedom that was supposed to be included as part of the Iran Deal.
Republican Congressman Ed Royce claims that the administration never consulted congress about this transaction, and as CBSNews reports, has even “accused the White House of paying ransom to a state sponsor state of terrorism.”
U.S. officials also told The Wall Street Journal that Iranian negotiators wanted the cash while the prisoner exchange was occurring to show that “they had gained something tangible.”
On top of it all, President Barack Obama, as The Wall Street Journal reports, never disclosed the $400 million cash payment the U.S. made when he spoke of resolving this longtime claim on Jan.17.
According to U.S. law, it’s forbidden to make any currency transaction in American dollars with Iran so the $400 billion must have been done with other foreign currency such as Euros and Swiss Francs, but besides saying that the $1.7 billion wasn’t paid in dollars, the administration has yet to disclose how exactly they paid Iran, even though there have been congressional queries for the disclosure.
The Wall Street Journal also claims that Revolutionary Guard commanders were boosting at the time of the prisoner exchange that America had fallen into Iranian pressure, with Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, commander of the Guard Basij militia saying on state media that “taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies.”
As FoxNews reports, since receiving the cash, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has arrested two Iranian-Americans and Tehran has detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K.
Friends and family of Siamak Namazi, an energy executive and his 80-year old father, Baque, whom The Wall Street Journal say are some of the Americans being held captive by Iran, believe that during the last six months of the Obama administration, Iran will attempt to force another prisoner exchange or cash payment.
“Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk,” Republican Senator of Illinois, Mark Kirk said in a statement to FoxNews. “While Americans were relieved by Iran’s overdue release of illegally imprisoned American hostages, the White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages.”
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