Was the $400 Million Paid to Iran by the U.S. a Ransom for American Prisoners? State Dept. Says Technically, No

Despite repeated claims by the Obama White House and the State Department that a $400 million payment to Iran was not a ransom for American prisoners, a Department spokesperson said Thursday that the payment was indeed contingent on their release, but would not classify it as a ransom.

CBS News reports:

Spokesman John Kirby says negotiations over the United States’ returning Iranian money from a decades-old account was conducted separately from the prisoner talks. But he says the U.S. withheld delivery of the cash as leverage until the U.S. citizens had left Iran.

The United States government has a policy against paying “ransom” for American prisoners. In this case, the State Department and Obama administration claim that the $400 million was used to pay off an outstanding arms deal that the U.S. agreed to back in 1979.

The New York Times reported earlier this month:

Mr. Obama said the payment was part of a decades-old dispute with Iran that had been litigated before an international tribunal, adding that his administration publicly disclosed the agreement in January.

The payment, delivered in European currency, was flown into Tehran aboard a cargo plan and stacked on wood pallets.


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