Last week, we reported here that one of the four American hostages recently freed from Iran revealed the timing of our $400 million payment was more than just coincidental. The hostage in question, Saeed Abedini, says he and the other hostages were brought to an airport and told they would be waiting for twenty minutes for the plane that would take them home to arrive.
That turned out to be a bit of an understatement. The plane didn’t come until hours later, and the hostages had to sleep overnight at the airport. The hostages were told they had to wait for another plane to arrive first, which Abedini argues was carrying the $400 million we gave to Iran. Just a “coincidental” turn of events which fuels speculation the money was ransom. And you know who else agrees with the speculation? Iran.
A Wall Street Journal story published earlier this week said some at the Department of Justice were concerned about the timing of the $400 million cash payment to Iran because it would appear to be a ransom payment. “People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,” one source told the WSJ.
It turns out we don’t have to guess how Iran saw the payment because they told us. The Daily Caller highlights a statement made by an Iranian Brigadier General seven months ago:“This money was returned for the freedom of the U.S. spy [Jason Rezaian] and it was not related to the [nuclear] negotiations,” said Iranian Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of Iran’s paramilitary Basij force, in January. Jason Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post, was one of the four American hostages released by the Islamic Republic.And there is additional evidence this view was widespread. A documentary aired on Iranian television several months ago claims to show video of the pallets of money delivered to the country. From the Washington Free Beacon: “The footage, which could not be independently verified, shows images of large stacks of hard currency and features claims that the Obama administration sent this money over as part of an effort to free several U.S. hostages. The White House vehemently denied these claims this week following new reports about the cash exchange. BBC Persian reporter Hadi Nili posted the footage on Twitter and described the footage as showing “pallets of cash” and quoting officials as saying ‘this was just part of the ‘expensive price’ to release Americans.” How nice of them to “only” charge us $100 million a head after we signed a nuclear deal with them which left them billions of dollars better off ($3 billion according to John Kerry, $55 billion according to the Obama Administration, and $150 billion according to the deal’s fiercest critics).
At least Iran is open about it when they’re ripping us off. Hopefully they’re just as open about it when they inevitably violate the terms of the nuclear agreement we made with them.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]