Team Obama keeps denying that it paid a ransom to Iran, so we’ll keep demonstrating that it did. Hey, it’s easy blogging.
The latest evidence comes from one of the hostages, who discloses that he and the others were kept in the airport overnight until the Iranians confirmed that the plane with Obama’s payment had arrived. Omri Ceren has emailed the details. He writes:
To resolve the [dispute over whether Obama paid a ransom], reporters have been trying to nail down the timing of two relevant flights: the plane with the hostages leaving Iran and the plane with the money arriving in Iran. If the hostages were held until the money arrived, it would strongly suggest the administration has been misleading reporters about the transfer being unrelated to the hostages.
Ceren notes that the administration has been unwilling to clarify this sequence, which is probably telling in itself. When asked yesterday and today about the timing of the two flights, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said he didn’t have an answer.
But now we have it:
[O]n today’s FBN “Intelligence Report with Trish Regan,” Trish Regan interviewed Pastor Saeed Abedini, one of the hostages freed in the deal last January.
He locked down the sequence: the hostages’ plane was indeed held up until the Iranians confirmed that a second plane had arrived.
Originally the hostages were supposed to be taken from prison to their plane with minimal delays, but instead they were held in the airport overnight – despite the plane, pilot, and hostages being ready – and Abedini was told they’d never be allowed to leave if that second plane didn’t show up.
Here’s the exchange between Regan and Abedini:
ABEDINI: I just remember the night that we’ve been in an airport – you know – just take hours and hours there. And I asked one of the intelligence police heads that was with us – that why we were not letting us to go to the [inaudible] plane and he told me we are waiting for another plane. And if that plane takes off then we are going to let you go.
REGAN: So did they actually take you out of the prison that you were in? And I want to get to the conditions that you had to live through in just a moment, but they took you out of your prison and brought you to an airport?
ABEDINI: Yeah we were at the airport for a night and you know they told us –
REGAN: – so you slept there at the airport?
ABEDINI: Yes for a night. And, you know, they told us you are going to be there for 20 minutes but it took like hours and hours. We slept at the airport and when I asked them why you don’t let us go – because the plane was there, pilot was there, everyone was ready that we leave the country – they said we are waiting for another plane. And until that plane doesn’t come we never let you go.
REGAN: So eventually another plane came, and did they then put you on that plane or were they just waiting for that plane, and I think you know where I am going with this, were they effectively waiting for the money to come in before they then let you take off?
ABEDINI: Yeah they didn’t talk about money they just told us about – they told me – about the plane. And you know the plane of Prime Minister of Switzerland was already in Iran, which you know we came back with that plane actually – so their reason that they said you are here in the airport was just because we were waiting for another plane.
REGAN: Okay so what happened did the other plane eventually land or did it land at another airport somewhere else?
ABEDINI: After that they never told anything to me and I didn’t see anything, you know –
REGAN: So do you have any idea how many hours you actually waited for this other plane?
ABEDINI: For a night. You know we went to the airport I think it was like 2, 3pm and we waited there for a whole night. And we, you know, fly back I think the day after at 10 in the morning.
Can you say “quid pro quo”?