(JNS.org) The Obama administration secretly sent $400 million worth of cash to Iran at the same time as four American prisoners were released from Tehran in January, U.S. officials claiming the cash was a ransom payment, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
U.S. and European officials as well as members of Congress said they were briefed after an airlift of the first payment, paid in euros, Swiss francs and other currencies, of a $1.7 billion settlement deal with Iran over a failed arms deal signed before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The settlement deal also coincided with the landmark Iran nuclear deal that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the support of many in Congress fought against.
Senior U.S. officials, including State Department spokesman John Kirby, denied there was any connection between the payment and the prisoner swap.
"The negotiations over the [arms deal] settlement ... were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home," Kirby said in a statement. "Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side."
"The funds that were transferred to Iran were related solely to the settlement of a long-standing claim at the U.S.-Iran Claims Tribunal at The Hague," Kirby said.