Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday vehemently denied that the United States paid Iran ransom in return for the release of American hostages.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the Obama administration secretly funneled $400 million in cash to the Iranians in January, around the time four American prisoners were released from Tehran.
U.S. officials have confirmed that the Obama administration secretly arranged a plane delivery of the cash on the same day Iran released four American prisoners and formally implemented the nuclear deal.
While he confirmed the U.S. offered the payment in cash, Obama nevertheless downplayed the delivery’s significance, saying it was not a “nefarious” deal and denying it was ransom.
“We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future,” Obama said, according to CNN.
“Those families know we have a policy that we don’t pay ransom,” he added. “And the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we’re looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them we don’t pay ransom, defies logic.”
Obama downplayed the story, saying he had been open about the payment at the time it was agreed upon.
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