World

Iranian Official Says U.S. ‘Bought’ Captives

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter

The head of Iran’s paramilitary militia claims that the $1.7 billion that will be paid to Iran directly by the U.S. government was a ransom for the four Americans released Sunday.

Brigadier Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi of Iran’s Basij force made the claim on Wednesday during an address to forces in the Iranian capital of Tehran. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the money Naqdi is referring to is supposedly going to be paid to the Iranian government by the U.S. to settle a debt over a military fund that existed between the U.S. and the former shah, who ruled Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“This money was returned for the freedom of the U.S. spy [Jason Rezaian] and it was not related to the [nuclear] negotiations,” says Naqdi.

In what appears to be an allusion to Iran’s detaining of 10 U.S. Navy sailors last week, Naqdi says “the annulment of sanctions against Iran’s Bank Sepah and reclaiming of $1.7 [billion] of Iran’s frozen assets after 36 years showed that the US doesn’t understand anything but the language of force.”

Iran and the U.S. engaged in a prisoner swap Sunday which saw the release of four U.S. citizens, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, in exchange for seven Iranians convicted of engaging in covert activities, including illegally smuggling technology for Iran’s nuclear program. President Obama describes the event as “a good day” and claims the release was a result of “strong American diplomacy.”

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