U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) joined other Senate colleagues in demanding answers from the Biden administration for the $6 billion it paid in “ransom money” to Iran in exchange for American prisoners.
The United States recently released $6 billion of Iranian oil revenue, previously held in escrow in South Korea, in exchange for the release from prison of five detained American citizens. The arrested citizens have not returned to the United States and will remain in Iran on house arrest.
Britt and others have criticized the move since Iran has continually funded terrorist activity across the globe. Others have criticized the White House for not including other detained nationals in the deal.
U.S. intelligence officials have long accused Iran of using bogus charges to lock up nationals from the United States and other “hostile countries.”
“Handing $6 billion to the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism is a reckless and disastrous decision that threatens the lives of Americans and our allies across the globe,” said Britt. “Once again, the Biden Administration has chosen to appease our adversaries and set a dangerous precedent. President Biden’s weakness will only embolden hostile actors to engage in further aggression around the world. We must achieve peace through strength, and I will always fight to hold this Administration accountable for putting American families at risk.”
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the senators wrote, “When the Obama administration released $400 million in liquidated assets to Iran in 2016, we warned that this dangerous precedent would put a price on American lives. Seven years later, the current administration is providing a ransom payment worth at least fifteen times that amount to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, in yet another violation of the United States’ long-standing ‘no concessions’ policy."
"In the release of Executive Order 14078 on July 19, 2022, the White House admitted that ‘terrorist organizations, criminal groups, and other malicious actors who take hostages for financial, political, or other gain—as well as foreign states that engage in the practice of wrongful detention, including for political leverage or to seek concessions from the United States—threaten the integrity of the international political system and the safety of United States nationals and other persons abroad.’ The release of such a significant sum to the Iranian regime runs entirely counter to that claim and will only serve to encourage additional hostage taking for financial or political gain," the letter added.
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