[Ed. – It’s kind of old news at this point, but worth the notice, since they stonewalled it for weeks.]
At a Thursday press briefing, State Department spokesman John Kirby addressed questions about a Wall Street Journal report by explaining that the U.S. held on to the $400 million cash payment until American prisoners were on a plane and safely away from Iran to “retain maximum leverage.” Kirby said the arrangement did not in any way constitute a ransom payment, as President Barack Obama’s Republican critics have alleged.
“We deliberately leveraged that moment to finalize these outstanding issues nearly simultaneously,” he said. “With concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release, given unnecessary delays regarding persons in Iran who could not be located as well as, to be quite honest, mutual mistrust between Iran and the United States, we of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released. That was our top priority.”
Asked to explain how the transaction differed from a ransom payment, which Kirby said the U.S. does not pay, the State Department spokesman said Iran was “going to get this money anyway because the Hague tribunal decided that they were going to get their money back” and the U.S. was simply holding up that payment until Iran held up its end of the bargain.