Issue of the Day

The State Dept admits the $400 million paid to Iran was kinda like ransom but not quite

iran hostages

The former US embassy in Tehran, Iran. (Örlygur Hnefill/Flickr)

So back in January 2016, the State Department paid Iran $400 million in January 2016 -- and they just admitted what the money was for: "leverage" to make sure Iran released the four American prisoners they had.

So like ransom, but not totally? President Obama insisted that the money was not for ransom on August 4th.

“We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future."

State Department Spokesman John Kirby said the exchange of prisoners and the US' return of Iranian money from frozen accounts happened on the same day, but the decision was made in two different talks.

This is how it all went down:
- The U.S. loaded the euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency from the accounts on an Iranian plane in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Similarly the Iranian government loaded the American prisoners, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, on a Swiss Air Force plane in Tehran.
- Only when the plane with the prisoners had departed was the Iranian plane allowed to depart.

Some people are calling it ransom.

An administration official just called it shrewd negotiating.

"With concerns Iran may renege on the prisoner release given unnecessary delays regarding persons in Iran who could not be located, as well as mutual mistrust between Iran and the United States, we of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released -- our top priority."

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The State Dept admits the $400 million paid to Iran was kinda like ransom but not quite

Anugya Chitransh

Anugya is originally from New Delhi, India. She studied journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York, graduating with a master's in international reporting. She plans to travel one day to all the places she reads about. She likes reading fiction, pop music, and going to the beach, but absolutely hates anyone mangling or shortening her name (which is quite common). She binge watches Korean dramas and anime series. She's a freelance writer and has produced content that has appeared in NBC, The Times of India, Time Out Delhi, and other publications.

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