Report: US paid Iran $400 million as American prisoners were freed

The Wall Street Journal reports that senior US officials deny any link between payment and prisoner swap while critics have charged that the move represented a ransom payment.

August 3, 2016 08:21
1 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at UN headquarters in New York. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


The January released of four Americans prisoners from Iran allegedly coincided with a secretly-arranged US cash payment of $400 million to Tehran, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The report cited US and European officials along with members of Congress who were reportedly later briefed on the airlift that rendered the first payment of a $1.7 billion deal the White House administration settled with Iran over a disputed, failed arms deal signed before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The shipment of euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currencies was procured by the Obama administration from the Dutch and Swiss central banks, according to the report. The money transfer was transported to Iran via an unmarked cargo aircraft.

The report cited senior US officials as denying any connection between the installment and the prisoner swap.

As the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was implemented in January, the State Department announced that the US had settled the decades-old claim in the Hague and would pay the Islamic Republic $1.7 billion. The case related to an original $400 million trust fund set up by Iran that was frozen along with severed ties with the US in 1979.

“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” US President Barack Obama was quoted as saying without mention of the $400 million payment.

However, critics have charged that the move represented a ransom settlement.

The Wall Street Journal cited Republican Senator Tom Cotton's as pointing to the $1.7 billion sum as a ransom payment "to the ayatollahs for US hostages."

“This break with longstanding US policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” he said.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Recovered watch of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, July 5, 2018.
April 18, 2019
Moscow adamantly denies reports it removed Eli Cohen's remains from Syria