Judicial Watch Sues State, Treasury Departments for Records on $400 Million Cash Payment to Iran
Payment was Delivered near Same Time Five American Hostages Were Released
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the State and Treasury Departments for records on the Obama administration’s transfer of $400 million in foreign currency to Iran in January 2016. The lawsuit was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of the Treasury (No.1:17-cv-00864)).
The suit was filed after the agencies failed to respond to August 2016 FOIA requests seeking:
- All records related to the transfer of approximately $400 million in foreign currency to the Islamic Republic of Iran in January 2016. This request includes, but is not limited to, all related records of communications between any official, employee, or representative of any of the following entities:
The Department of the Treasury
The Islamic Republic of Iran
The Executive Office of the White House
The Department of Defense
The Department of Justice
The Department of State
In January 2016, the funds, sent in stacks of foreign currency on wooden pallets on an unmarked cargo plane, were delivered to Tehran about the same time Iran released five American hostages. The Obama administration insisted at the time the cash payment was not ransom for the hostages, but several Republican lawmakers said it was too coincidental to be true. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reportedly said, “Paying Iran behind our backs, incentivizing further kidnappings of Americans while providing funds for terrorism, is as ignorant as it is wrong.”
The State Department, just two weeks after an August 4 press conference in which President Barack Obama said the payment was not a “ransom,” confirmed that the U.S. handed over the cash only after Iran released the hostages.
The $400 million was the first installment of a $1.7 billion cash settlement the Obama administration paid Iran to resolve an arms deal signed before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which toppled the pro-U.S. regime in Tehran.
“The Obama administration’s secretive $400 million payoff to the Iranian regime was an abuse of power and may have been illegal,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “The Trump administration’s agencies should follow the law and release all they can about the Obama-Iran payoff scandal.”