Let’s make a deal: What did WH trade to win release of U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran?

From the same administration that took a televised victory lap around the Rose Garden when it released five high-value members of the Taliban to secure the freedom of deserter Bowe Bergdahl comes the latest prisoner swap.

This time, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and four other U.S. citizens imprisoned by Iran are reported to have been released.

And what concessions did the White House have to make that a reality? The official Iranian news agency Fars answers that question in a series of tweets:

LU colleague J.E. Dyer notes in an emailed message:

The timing is designed to spike the guns of Iran “deal” critics. IAEA is about to give Obama the green light to lift sanctions.

As part of the lifting of sanctions, the U.S. will also unfreeze $100 billion in Iranian assets. Even a source as friendly to the administration as NPR notes there are troubling questions about what Iran will do with this cash windfall. The article quotes Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as saying:

We have no ability to constrain Iran if they want to spend all $100 billion on funding Hezbollah or other terrorist organizations. But when you’re getting a $100 billion-plus cash windfall, even if you’re spending 5 to 10 percent of that only on the regional activities and your support for terrorism, that’s an extra $5 to $10 billion dollars-plus.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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