Ed in the News
Rep. Ed Royce Seeks to Block Cash Ransoms to Iran
The “Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act (HR 5931)” has three main objectives:
It makes clear that the Obama Administration violated longstanding U.S. policy by releasing prisoners and paying ransom for the return of Americans held hostage by Iran;
it prohibits cash payments to Iran—period; and
it demands transparency in future settlements to ensure they are not used to pay ransom.
The Iranian regime is the world’d leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Royce issued the following statement upon the bill’s introduction:
The resolution also states that Pastor Saeed Abedini, one of the U.S. citizens who was released as part of that exchange, “stated that Iranian officials explained a delay in their departure was due to the status of another plane.”
On Tuesday, Abedini once again confirmed this in an interview with Breitbart News.
Abedini said the his Iranian captors told him their belief that “the U.S. is playing with us and that if the other plane from Switzerland doesn’t arrive, you are going back to prison.” Abedini told Breitbart News that he thought they were playing a psychological game with him, as they had often in the past.
This time, they were not. The plane arrived, and he and the other three prisoners were released.
Abedini said he “did not believe that the U.S. government would pay money for the release of prisoners. I already told my family that I don’t want us to be exchanged for Iranian criminals who are imprisoned in the U.S.,” he told Breitbart News. “I never thought there was going to be another plane with money,” he said adding that he would have preferred to remain in prison than be part of such a humiliating exchange.
It is illegal for the U.S. government to pay ransom for hostages to be released from foreign captivity. It provides an an incentive for hostage-takers to repeat this behavior in the future. It is, in essence, rewarding bad behavior.
In the one-page summary provided by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on this issue, Royce points out that President Barack Obama “had rejected the advice of his own Justice Department and ignored a longstanding U.S. policy not to release prisoners or pay ransom in exchange for the return of Americans held hostage abroad. Even the State Departmentnow admits this payment was ‘leverage’ for the release of American hostages.”
On Wednesday, Royce said “what’s worse than a $400 million cash ransom to Iran” is “a $1.7 billion cash ransom to Iran.” He issued the statement in response to news that the Obama administration had paid the entire $1.7 billion settlement, which was negotiated parallel to the Iran nuclear talks, in cash:
Last week, Reuters reported that the intelligence wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “arrested an Iranian-American dual national in late July on charges of plotting against national security and working with hostile governments.” This latest arrest is reportedly among at least half a dozen made of dual-national Iranians, including at least three other Iranian-Americans over the past year.