The Iran ransom deal denial by the Obama Administration is seeming a bit more doubtful. News emerging from one of the former American hostages, an Iranian-American minister, regarding information he was told by one of his captors, a man in charge of the prison police, as well as a letter sent to the Secretaries of Treasury and State regarding the matter from Senator Tom Cotton, who formerly served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne, could cast a shadow on the Administration’s explanation.
Saeed Abedini, the minister who spent more than three years in prison, gave an interview with Trish Regan at FOX Business Network. Pastor Abedini is quoted in a story by Bob Eschliman at Charisma Magazine on the deal and his own piece of information on the puzzling matter. The minister knew that there was already a Swiss plane that could take them away, but they had to wait for a second plane as well.
“I just remember the night that we’d been in a airport—just take hours and hours there. And I asked one of the heads of prison police that was with us, that, ‘Why are you not letting us… on the plane?’ And he told me we are waiting for another plane, and if that plane take (sic) off, then we’re going to let you go.”
No second plane, no release of hostages
The pastor also mentioned that the hostages were originally told they would only be at the airport for “20 minutes,” according to the story. As it turned out, however, they waited at the airport for an entire night, forced to sleep at the location just waiting for the arrival of the “other plane.”
“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 [if] that plane doesn’t come, we never let you go,” said Pastor Abedini, recounting the night of waiting for the other airplane.
And although money was never mentioned, according to Abedini, that second plane seemed the key to their release.
This all comes as news to many since the entire week seems to have been spent in denials. Zack Beauchamp, writing at Vox, reports that “[o]n the morning of January 17, several wooden pallets arrived at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport,” and these were “stuffed with foreign cash — $400 million worth, to be exact.” The money arrived from the United States and Beauchamp also notes that on this same day “four US citizens… were released from Iranian custody.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted his suspicions. As stated in the response, Speaker Ryan believes that the public “deserves an explanation” of what the deal was with the Iranians.
If true, this report confirms our longstanding suspicion that the admin paid a ransom to #Iran.
My full statement ↓ pic.twitter.com/2BHqlYbBKx
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 3, 2016
Senator Tom Cotton sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew about the ransom paid to Iran as well. Senator Cotton states in this letter that he is “disturbed” by the reporting on the matter and mentions that he has sought a response since the January release of hostages from officials in both departments. Even more frustrating to Senator Cotton was how the news came out in the press before Congress was notified or the American people were told honestly about it.
“That your officials have been reluctant to disclose to me and my colleagues the the full nature and timing of the $400 million cash payment is discomfiting.”
“As you are intimately aware, Iran has a history of illegally detaining U.S. persons as hostages, and it has shown a continued propensity to seize such hostages. Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world and a destabilizing force in the Middle east. Iran has also persistently pursued illicit weapons technology from ballistic missiles to nuclear weapons capability. I am afraid that the cash payment of a $400 million ransom to the ayatollahs makes all of these problems exponentially worse.”
[Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP, File]