A Ransom By Any Other Name Is A Ransom.
On January 16, 2016, just four days before President Obama’s second term inauguration, it was reported that four US citizens (Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari) were released in return for the U.S. dropping charges against seven Iranians who had been convicted in the U.S. for sanctions violations. The culmination of 14 months of secret negotiations. A fifth American, Matthew Trevithick, was also being released by Iran, U.S. officials said, but they said his release was not part of the negotiated prisoner swap. Senior administration officials said Trevithick was recently detained in Iran.
The Iranians told the U.S. during the talks they wanted a “goodwill gesture” and gave the U.S. a list of Iranians they wanted released. The U.S. officials excluded any names of anyone charged with terrorism or violence, insisting that they would only consider those who had been convicted of sanctions violations or violations of the trade embargo.
Fast forward to August 3, 2016 when we learned the $400 M was delivered to Iran.
“The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.”
Was this a pre-condition, or another “goodwill gesture” the Iranians required. Well Pastor Saeed Abedini reported at the time of his release. “They [Iranian police] told us ‘you’re going to be there [airport] for 20 minutes, but it took like hours and hours,’” Abedini said. “We slept at the airport.” Abedini said the plane and pilot were there, and everyone was ready to go, but they didn’t leave until 10 a.m. the next day. They eventually flew to the U.S. in the plane that had been sitting at the airport overnight. Abedini said he and the others waited a full night in the airport. According to police, they were waiting for another plane [the $400 M?] to arrive.
Was the $400 M owed to Iran, yes. Was it a pre-condition to the release of the 5 US citizens, apparently. Was it ransom, if we assume that if the money plane hadn’t arrived that the release wouldn’t have happened then it was a ransom.