From Daily Mail
President Obama’s administration paid $400m to Iran as part of a failed arms deal as they also lifted nuclear-related sanctions
Four Americans were also released by Iran as part of a prisoner exchange
Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian was among them, U.S. confirms
Former U.S. Marine, a pastor and a fourth man were also set free
Critics claim Obama gave cash as hostage payment for the four Americans
But Us officials insist the exchange came after ease of tensions between the two countries following the resolution
Fifth American man – a student – was also freed but not as part of the swap
Trump responded to the report, claiming Hillary Clinton was behind the deals when she was secretary of state between 2009 and 2013
The US secretly flew $400 million stashed inside wooden pallets out to Iran as four Americans were released from Tehran – but the Obama administration insists it was not a ransom payment.
The pallets, which were stuffed with euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currencies, arrived in Tehran on January 17. That same day, four US citizens were released in exchange for seven Iranians held in the United States.
Officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange, saying the deal was part of a $1.7 billion settlement to resolve a failed 1979 arms deal, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Bur critics claim that the clandestine multi-million dollar payment was part of the hostage negotiations.
They also point to the fact that President Barack Obama failed to make any mention of the $400 million when he announced the prisoner exchange.
‘With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,’ President Barack Obama said on January 17.
Iranians had demanded the return of the $400 million which was paid to the Pentagon by Iran, shortly before the fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to purchase US fighter jets.
Officials admit that Iranian negotiators had demanded cash over the exchange to show they had won something from the US in negotiations.
But they insist that negotiations on the prisoner exchange, and the failed arms deal settlement were completely separate.
‘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.
US officials admit they realized the United States was going to lose its case over the arms deal in The Hague, where Iran was seeking more than $10 billion compensation.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas, accused the Obama administration of paying a $1.7 billion ‘ransom’ for the hostages.
They have also expressed concerns the money could be used to fund terrorist groups such as Lebanese militia Hezbollah or it could be funding Assad’s regime in Syria.
Local press reports also quoted Iranian defense officials describing the money as a ransom payment.
The Obama administration has refused to say how the $1.7 billion was paid.
But officials say the $400 million was paid in foreign currency, because transactions with Iran in US dollars is illegal in the United States.
It was such a large amount of cash that the US was forced to transfer the money into the central banks of the Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Once the dollars were converted to foreign currency, it was stacked in the wooden pallets and sent off to Iran.
The cargo plane carrying the money arrived in Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on January 17 – the same day the American detainees were released.
Negotiations for their release began back in 2014 with Switzerland’s foreign minister hosting the discussions at the InterContinental Hotel, Geneva, on behalf of the US which has not had diplomatic interests in Iran since closing its Tehran embassy following the 1979 hostage crisis.
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