The delivery of cash coincided with the release of four Americans kept in Iranian prison, a move that US leaders have struggled to present as a separate deal.
The payment was said to become the first part of $1.7 billion settlement of a failed arms deal between the countries that dates back to 1979, when a revolution in Iran took place.
According to the sources, Carlin was among other Justice Department’s officials who protested against the decision, highlighting the rift in the US leadership at the time. Under US legislation, ransoms for American hostages are prohibited, as they might encourage terrorists to take US citizens captive in hope for getting money. However, the payments have been processed despite objections from some officials.
“They told us you going to be there for 20 minutes but it took hours and hours,” Abidini said. “And I asked them why don’t you let us go, because the — was there, pilot was there, everyone was there to leave the country. And he said they were waiting for another plane so if that plane didn’t come they would have never let us go.”
Following the reports, Barack Obama lambasted at media outlets suggesting the move was a ransom, saying the handover of money "wasn’t some nefarious deal."
“Some of you may recall, we announced these payments in January. Many months ago. There wasn’t a secret — we announced them to all of you,” Obama said.
But the assurances from the president haven’t calmed down members of Congress, who said that the reports, if proved true, would undermine the legitimacy of Iran Nuclear Deal brokered by P5+1 group in July 2015.
“It would also mark another chapter in the ongoing saga of misleading the American people to sell this dangerous nuclear deal,” House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote in a separate statement.
Washington has long stated that the timing of the exchange was a coincidence and the deals were made separately. White House added the payment aimed to compensate the losses of the Iranian government for undelivered military equipment by the United States in 1979.