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White House Gives Iran $1.7 Billion: Legal Settlement or Ransom Payout for Jailed Americans?

White House Gives Iran $1.7 Billion: Legal Settlement or Ransom Payout for Jailed Americans?

The Obama Administration handed Iran $1.7 billion this month for what it claims to be the settling of a legal claim dating back to the 1970s. But the fact that this payout corresponded to the release of five jailed Americans leads many to believe that the hefty sum was a ransom. 

As we know, President Obama has a habit of releasing dangerous criminals and capitulating to ransom requests – even when it comes to traitors like Bowe Bergdahl.

“US Bought Freedom of Spies by Releasing $1.7 billion of Iran’s Frozen Assets” screams the headline by Tehran news agency Fars. Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi of Iran’s infamous Basij militia argues that America paid this hefty sum in exchange for “its spies held by Iran.” This statement directly contradicts Obama’s denial that the settling of an old weapons supply agreement was tantamount to ransom. 

“The annulment of sanctions against Iran’s Bank Sepah and reclaiming of $1.7 billion of Iran’s frozen assets after 36 years showed that the US doesn’t understand anything but the language of force,” says Naqdi. “This money was returned for the freedom of the US spy.” 

The photo above shows Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who was freed after spending a year and a half of incarceration in an Iranian prison. He was arrested last year for espionage. Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, researcher Matthew Trevithick, and Iranian-American Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari were also released. The four were charged with various crimes against Iran’s national security. 

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson is still unaccounted for. 

The fact that the prisoner release last weekend coincided with the nuclear deal’s Implementation Day has raised questions about the massive payout. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton wonders if the $1.7 billion was “part of the ransom that we had to pay to get innocent Americans back from Iranian captivity.”

I’d like to note that the ‘legal settlement’ included an alleged $1.3 billion in interest.  

“We’re awaiting details from the administration on the ransom paid for their freedom,” said House Speaker spokeswoman AshLee Strong. She told the Washington Post that Obama was “giving Iran a roughly $1.7 billion cash infusion” for the release of the jailed Americans. 

Press secretary Josh Earnest denies that the payout was a ransom. “Paul Ryan has suggested this was a ransom payment,” he said on ABC News. “He’s wrong about that.” ABC host Jon Karl put Earnest on the spot with his response: “The Department of State announced this payment of $1.7 billion to the government of Iran just before the plane carrying the freed Americans landed in Geneva. You’re really telling me that this is an absolute coincidence that this payment just happened to coincide with the precise moment when the American prisoners were flying to freedom?” 

Earnest admitted that it was “not a coincidence” and explained that Implementation Day “created a series of diplomatic opportunities for the United States that we’ve capitalized on.”

“We used that opening and we used that deeper diplomatic engagement to secure the release of five American citizens who were being unjustly held inside of Iran,” he continued. “And we used that diplomatic opening to resolve a longstanding financial claim that the Iranians had against the United States.” 



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