New report on the $400 million US payment to Iran says the money was not a ransom payment

New information about the exchange that freed several American hostages held in Iran earlier this year has emerged in a report from The Wall Street Journal.

According to the report published Wednesday, the $400 million cash exchange — dubbed by some in the Republican Party as a “ransom” payment between the US and Iran — did not happen until the Americans were safely flown out of Tehran on Jan. 17.

“Our top priority was getting the Americans home,” said an unnamed US official who spoke to The Journal.

Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was among the freed hostages.

Citing US officials and others familiar with the matter, The Journal said an Iranian cargo plane was cleared to transport the $400 million in cash from an airport in Geneva to Iran the same day, after the Americans were freed.

The White House and State Department said the money was part of a $1.7 billion settlement between the US and Iran, as part of the nuclear deal.

Republicans, including presidential nominee, Donald Trump, have asserted the deal “is nothing but a series of bribes.”

GOP lawmakers sceptical of the explanation have said they plan to hold hearings on the matter when Congress reconvenes in September.

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