Iran ‘Ransom:’ U.S. Delayed Cash Until Prisoners Freed

TEL AVIV – U.S. officials and others briefed on the operation have provided new details about the transfer of $400 million in cash to Tehran earlier this year, depicting what the Wall Street Journal has described as a “tightly scripted exchange specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran.” The Obama administration has denied the ransom claims, explaining that the money was owed to Iran as part of the $1.7 billion settlement of a case that dates back to the late 1970’s However, the new descriptions of the payment and the timing of the cash handoff raise questions about the relationship between the payment and the release of the American hostages on the same day in January. Reports the Journal: U.S. officials wouldn’t let Iranians take control of the money until a Swiss Air Force plane carrying three freed Americans departed from Tehran on Jan. 17, the officials said. Once that happened, an Iranian cargo plane was allowed to bring the cash back from a Geneva airport that day, according to the accounts. Those briefed on the operation related that the pallets filled with $400 million in foreign currency were flown on an Iran Air cargo