11:52 GMT +323 September 2019
Listen Live
    President Barack Obama speaks about the nuclear deal with Iran, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, at American University in Washington

    Top Justice Department Official Called Obama's $400Mln Payment to Iran ‘Ransom’

    © AP Photo / Carolyn Kasterster
    Middle East
    Get short URL

    Despite US President Barack Obama’s claim that Washington doesn’t “pay ransom for hostages,” a top Justice Department official appears to have slammed the White House for sending $400 million to Iran in January at the same day Tehran released four American hostages kept in prison.

    John Carlin, head of the national security division at the Justice Department, opposed the move by the State Department and the White House to send a jet of cash to Iran last January, saying it looked like a ransom, The Wall Street Journal reported citing unnamed sources in the agency.

    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.

    The US hostages had previously revealed some details of their liberation that point to the fact they could have been ransomed. Saeed Abidini, one of the hostages, said in an interview with FOX Business last week that Iranians were waiting for what he said was a ransom plane en route from America.

    “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.

    "The revelation that the Obama administration ransomed the Americans being unjustly detained by the Islamic Republic of Iran with $400 million in cash is only the most recent piece of evidence that the so-called nuclear deal with the mullahs is fundamentally illegitimate," Senator Ted Cruz stated.

    “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.


    Tehran, Moscow to Construct 2 Nuclear Power Plants in Iran – Iranian Lawmaker
    Foreign Policy Shift: Turkey Changing Priorities and Partners on Syria
    Biden's Confusing Advice: US Should Work With and Against Russia Simultaneously
    P5+1, ransom, funds, money, State Department, Justice Deparment, Iran, United States
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik