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US Secret Payment to Iran Could Be Ransom for Release of Four Nationals

© AP Photo / Emrah GurelTurkish Liras, Euros and US Dollars(File)
Turkish Liras, Euros and US Dollars(File) - Sputnik International
Controversy has arisen over whether the US secret disbursement of $400 million worth of cash to Iran in January was a ransom for the simultaneous release of four its nationals held by Tehran, US media reported on Wednesday.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US Congress people and European officials were cited by the Wall Street Journal as saying at a briefing that bundles of cash – a mix of euro and other non-US currencies – were airlifted by unmarked cargo plane.

At the same time, the United States was negotiating a prisoner exchange with Iran, raising doubts among Republicans that money had changed hands to guarantee the release as a ransom payment.

"This break with longstanding US policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures," Sen. Tom Cotton said, as quoted by the WSJ.

The White House argued this was the first installment of a 1.7-billion settlement between the two countries to end a 37-year dispute over funds that Iran had paid for arms deliveries. Tehran wants Washington to pay it over $10 billion in frozen funds and interest.

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