Yesterday, the Obama administration finally admitted that its $400 million cash payment to Iran was contingent on the release of a group of American prisoners. State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the U.S. withheld the delivery of the cash as “leverage” until Iran permitted the Americans to leave the country.
There was also this exchange:
In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?
Kirby had previously tweeted: “Reports of link between prisoner release & payment to Iran are completely false.” It turns out, per Kirby’s own statement yesterday, that his tweet was completely false.
Why did Kirby finally admit the link? Probably because, as the Washington Post notes, the day before Kirby owned up the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials wouldn’t let Iran bring the cash home from a Geneva airport until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three of the freed Americans departed from Tehran.
In a sense, it’s odd that the admission of a link had to be dragged out of Kirby after he initially denied it. What’s worse, giving Iran $400 million and getting American prisoners back or giving Iran $400 million and not getting them back?
But Team Obama wanted to avoid admitting to paying a ransom. Now, by acknowledging that the payment was contingent on the prisoner release, Kirby has admitted it.
The common definition of a ransom is “money that is paid in order to free someone who has been captured or kidnapped.” Since, as Kirby said yesterday, we wouldn’t give Iran the money unless the prisoners were released, the money was paid in order to free them. In other words, the money was a ransom.
Everyone knew this. Now Team Obama has finally admitted it.
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