Obama dropped $10m claim, twisted prisoner’s arm to take prison-swap deal with Iran

Obama dropped $10m claim, twisted prisoner’s arm to take prison-swap deal with Iran

[Ed. – This keeps getting weirder.  Sounds like Modanlo REALLY didn’t want to take this deal.  But apparently it was REALLY important to Iran.  There was no reason otherwise for the U.S. government to push Modanlo so hard.]

Nader Modanlo was facing five more years in federal prison when he got an extraordinary offer: U.S. President Barack Obama was ready to commute his sentence as part of this month’s historic and then still-secret prisoner swap with Iran. He said no.

To sweeten the deal, the U.S. administration then dropped a claim against the Iran-born aerospace engineer for $10 million that a Maryland jury found he had taken as an illegal payment from Iran, according to interviews with Modanlo, lawyers involved and U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. …

Even after receiving the improved offer on Friday, Jan. 15, Modanlo said he didn’t budge at first. He wanted a chance to clear his name in court, he says.

“I was mostly disappointed that I have to give up my right to appeal,” Modanlo, 55, told Reuters in one of his first interviews since being released. …

Modanlo’s reluctance to accept Obama’s offer became an eleventh-hour complication to an otherwise carefully staged deal with Iran that had been negotiated in secret for months by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart.

He only agreed to accept the clemency offer on Saturday, Jan. 16 as the clock ticked toward what U.S. officials said was the final deadline, according to Modanlo and U.S. officials. …

After calls from his attorneys and Iranian representatives failed to convince Modanlo to take the clemency, it was a pleading and tearful call from his sister in Iran that finally made him relent, he said.

“If it was for me, I would never have taken the deal,” he said.

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