WASHINGTON: The Obama Administration withheld USD 400 million ransom that was paid to Iran in a plane ‘till the time’ its hostages were released by Tehran, a major US daily reported on Thursday in a potentially damaging report for the Democratic party campaign.
“US officials wouldn’t let Iranians take control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three freed Americans departed from Tehran on January 17. Once that happened, an Iranian cargo plane was allowed to bring the cash home from a Geneva airport that day,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Obama Administration has insisted that the payment was part of its effort to sort out a long pending dispute with Iran and was not a ransom. However, the opposition Republican party does not seem to be convinced.
USD 400 million was the first instalment of the USD 1.7 billion settlement reached by the Obama Administration with Iran.
“It’s time for the White House to drop the charade and admit it paid a USD 400 million ransom to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” the Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus has said in a statement.
“President (Barack) Obama has foolishly put a price on the head of every American abroad and it should be no surprise that Iran has since detained more US citizens.
“Hillary Clinton’s support for this dangerous blunder shows once again she does not have the judgement to be President,” Priebus has said.
According to the report, executives from Iran’s flagship carrier Iran Air, organised the flight from Tehran to Geneva where the cash — euros and Swiss francs and other currencies — was loaded onto the aircraft.
“Our top priority was getting the Americans home,” a US official was quoted as saying.