WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is facing a storm of Republican criticism after acknowledging that a $400 million cash payment to Iran seven months ago was contingent on the release of American prisoners.
Thursday’s explanation was the first time the U.S. had so clearly linked the two events, which critics have painted as a hostage-ransom arrangement.
State Department spokesman John Kirby says the U.S. withheld the delivery of the cash as leverage until Iran permitted the Americans to leave the country.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska says that if a cash payment is contingent on a hostage release, it’s a ransom.
Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina says such decisions “are putting our nation and our allies at risk.”