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    Default U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed


    U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed

    Obama administration insists there was no quid pro quo, but critics charge payment amounted to ransom

    August 2, 2016

    The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

    Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

    The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

    The settlement, which resolved claims before an international tribunal in The Hague, also coincided with the formal implementation that same weekend of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Tehran, the U.S. and other global powers the summer before.

    “With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17—without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.

    Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo.

    “As we’ve made clear, the negotiations over the settlement of an outstanding claim…were completely separate from the discussions about returning our American citizens home,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Not only were the two negotiations separate, they were conducted by different teams on each side, including, in the case of The Hague claims, by technical experts involved in these negotiations for many years.”

    But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible.

    Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”

    “This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans, he said.

    Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months.

    At the time of the prisoner release, Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House portrayed it as a diplomatic breakthrough. Mr. Kerry cited the importance of “the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks.”

    Meanwhile, U.S. officials have said they were certain Washington was going to lose the arbitration in The Hague, where Iran was seeking more than $10 billion, and described the settlement as a bargain for taxpayers.

    Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. The Iranian foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    The $400 million was paid in foreign currency because any transaction with Iran in U.S. dollars is illegal under U.S. law. Sanctions also complicate Tehran’s access to global banks.

    “Sometimes the Iranians want cash because it’s so hard for them to access things in the international financial system,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the January cash delivery. “They know it can take months just to figure out how to wire money from one place to another.”

    The Obama administration has refused to disclose how it paid any of the $1.7 billion, despite congressional queries, outside of saying that it wasn’t paid in dollars. Lawmakers have expressed concern that the cash would be used by Iran to fund regional allies, including the Assad regime in Syria and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization.

    The U.S. and United Nations believe Tehran is subsidizing the Assad regime’s war in Syria through cash and energy shipments. Iran has acknowledged providing both financial and military aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and deploying Iranian soldiers there.

    But John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said last week that there was evidence much of the money Iran has received from sanctions relief was being used for development projects. “The money, the revenue that’s flowing into Iran is being used to support its currency, to provide moneys to the departments and agencies, build up its infrastructure,” Mr. Brennan said at a conference in Aspen, Colo.

    The U.S. and Iran entered into secret negotiations to secure the release of Americans imprisoned in Iran in November 2014, according to U.S. and European officials. Switzerland’s foreign minister, Didier Burkhalter, offered to host the discussions.

    The Swiss have represented the U.S.’s diplomatic interests in Iran since Washington closed its embassy in Tehran following the 1979 hostage crisis.

    Iranian security services arrested two Iranian-Americans during President Obama’s first term. In July 2014, the intelligence arm of Iran’s elite military unit, the Revolutionary Guard, detained the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian, and charged him with espionage.

    A fourth Iranian-American was arrested last year. A former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, Robert Levinson, disappeared on the Iranian island of Kish in 2007. His whereabouts remain unknown.

    The Swiss channel initially saw little activity, according to these officials. But momentum shifted after Tehran and world powers forged a final agreement in July 2015 to constrain Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most international sanctions. A surge of meetings then took place in the Swiss lakeside city of Geneva in November and December.

    The U.S. delegation was led by a special State Department envoy, Brett McGurk, and included representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to U.S. and European officials. The Iranian team was largely staffed by members of its domestic spy service, according to U.S. officials.

    The discussions, held at the InterContinental Hotel, initially focused solely on a formula whereby Iran would swap the Americans detained in Tehran for Iranian nationals held in U.S. jails, U.S. officials said. But around Christmas, the discussions dovetailed with the arbitration in The Hague concerning the old arms deal.

    The Iranians were demanding the return of $400 million the Shah’s regime deposited into a Pentagon trust fund in 1979 to purchase U.S. fighter jets, U.S. officials said. They also wanted billions of dollars as interest accrued since then.

    President Obama approved the shipment of the $400 million. But accumulating so much cash presented a logistical and security challenge, said U.S. and European officials. One person briefed on the operation joked: “You can’t just withdraw that much money from ATMs.”

    Mr. Kerry and the State and Treasury departments sought the cooperation of the Swiss and Dutch governments. Ultimately, the Obama administration transferred the equivalent of $400 million to their central banks. It was then converted into other currencies, stacked onto the wooden pallets and sent to Iran on board a cargo plane.

    On the morning of Jan. 17, Iran released the four Americans: Three of them boarded a Swiss Air Force jet and flew off to Geneva, with the fourth returning to the U.S. on his own. In return, the U.S. freed seven Iranian citizens and dropped extradition requests for 14 others.

    U.S. and European officials wouldn’t disclose exactly when the plane carrying the $400 million landed in Iran. But a report by an Iranian news site close to the Revolutionary Guard, the Tasnim agency, said the cash arrived in Tehran’s Mehrabad airport on the same day the Americans departed.

    Revolutionary Guard commanders boasted at the time that the Americans had succumbed to Iranian pressure. “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, commander of the Guard’s Basij militia, on state media.

    Among the Americans currently being held are an energy executive named Siamak Namazi and his 80-year old father, Baqer, according to U.S. and Iranian officials. Iran’s judiciary spokesman last month confirmed Tehran had arrested the third American, believed to be a San Diego resident named Reza “Robin” Shahini.

    Friends and family of the Namazis believe the Iranians are seeking to increase their leverage to force another prisoner exchange or cash payment in the final six months of the Obama administration. Mr. Kerry and other U.S. officials have been raising their case with Iranian diplomats, U.S. officials say.

    Iranian officials have demanded in recent weeks the U.S. return $2 billion in Iranian funds that were frozen in New York in 2009. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the money should be given to victims of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks.

    Members of Congress are seeking to pass legislation preventing the Obama administration from making any further cash payments to Iran. One of the bills requires for the White House to make public the details of its $1.7 billion transfer to Iran.

    “President Obama’s…payment to Iran in January, which we now know will fund Iran’s military expansion, is an appalling example of executive branch governance,” said Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.), who co-wrote the bill. “Subsidizing Iran’s military is perhaps the worst use of taxpayer dollars ever by an American president.”

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    Default Re: U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed

    Companion Thread: Iran has 'penetrated' the Obama Administration


    Bolton: Payment to Iran ‘Absolutely’ A Ransom, Hostage Release, Payment, and Nuke Deal ‘Part of a Package’


    by Ian Hanchett3 Aug 2016

    On Wednesday’s “Varney & Co.,” on the Fox Business Network, former UN Ambassador John Bolton said that the payment of $400 million to Iran as four Americans were released from the country back in January was “Absolutely” a ransom and that “the release of the hostages by Iran, the payment of a $1.7 billion settlement, of which the 400 million in cash was just the first installment, and the Iran nuclear deal were part of a package.”

    Bolton said, “There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that the release of the hostages by Iran, the payment of a $1.7 billion settlement, of which the 400 million in cash was just the first installment, and the Iran nuclear deal were part of a package. Now, were they considered separate agreements? Sure. Look, I’ve done this myself, but the notion that they were purely coincidental, utterly unrelated, is false.”
    When asked, “Did we pay ransom for the release of hostages? Did we pay?” Bolton responded, “Absolutely, and Iran understood it that way, and so does the rest of the world.”

    He added, “I think the reason that this all got wrapped together is that the administration made a political decision that they couldn’t do the nuclear deal unless they got at least some of the American hostages released. And so, I could easily imagine after a hard day of making American concessions, [Secretary of State] John Kerry saying to the Iranians, let’s talk about the hostages, and the Iranians saying, well, we’re not going to link that to the nuclear deal, but we’ll talk about the hostages if you talk about our $1.7 billion, and Kerry said yes, these are all independent, let’s talk, and away they went.

    So, it was a payment in exchange for the hostages, it may have been a separate agreement, it may have been negotiated in its technical details by separate people, it was part of one big deal.”


    White House Acknowledges Iran Might Use $400 Million Payment To Sponsor Terrorism [VIDEO]


    Christian Datoc Reporter 1:02 PM 08/03/2016

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Wednesday that Iran might be using the secret $400 million payment it received from the United States — the same day the country released four American prisoners — to sponsor terrorist organizations.

    The White House has denied that the payment was a ransom, instead stating it was the “first installment of the $1.7 billion in the United States seized in 1979 after an arms deal with the Shah of Iran was halted following the Islamic revolution.” (RELATED: US Secretly Sent Iran $400 Million In Cash The Same Day Prisoners Were Released)

    Speaking a press briefing, Earnest was asked if the administration knows how Iran has used that “pile of cash.”



    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest briefs members of the media at the White House on June 20, 2016 (Getty Images)

    “First of all, it’s Iranian money,” he stated. “And I think what is true from all of the money Iran has received since January — including from sanctions relief … the analysis that we’ve done confirms what we predicted.”

    “Largely, that money was spent to address the dire situation of the nation of Iran.”

    “The president was quite forward-leaning in advance of the deal being completing in acknowledging that we know that Iran supports terrorism,” Earnest added. “We know that Iran supports Hezbollah and the Assad regime, and it certainly is possible that some of the money Iran has is being used for those purposes too. That’s precisely why this administration on the front end has been deepening our engagement with our partners in the Middle East to counter those activities.”

    WATCH:



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    Default Re: U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed


    U.S. Paid $1.3 Billion To Iran Two Days After Cash Delivery

    August 24, 2016

    The Obama administration said Wednesday it paid $1.3 billion in interest to Iran in January to resolve a decades-old dispute over an undelivered military sale, two days after allowing $400 million in cash to fly to Tehran.

    State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says the U.S. couldn’t say more about the Jan. 19 payments because of diplomatic sensitivities. They involved 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 and final payment of about $10 million. There was no explanation for the Treasury Department keeping the individual transactions under $100 million.

    The money settles a dispute over a $400 million payment made in the 1970s by the U.S.-backed shah’s government for military equipment. The equipment was never delivered because of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the shah and ended diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran.

    On Jan. 17, the administration paid Iran the account’s $400 million principal in pallets of euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currency, raising questions about the unusual payment. The $1.3 billion covers what Iran and the U.S. agreed would be the interest on the $400 million over the decades.

    The deal has faced increased scrutiny since the administration’s acknowledgment this month that it used the money as leverage to ensure the release of four American prisoners.

    Republican critics accuse the administration of paying a “ransom​.”

    President Barack Obama and other officials deny such claims, though they’ve struggled to explain why the U.S. paid in cash. President Obama said it was because the United States and Iran didn’t have a banking relationship after years of nuclear-related sanctions, but that wouldn’t rule out using intermediary banks that maintain relationship with both.

    Briefing reporters last week, a senior U.S. official involved in the negotiations said the interest payments were made to Iran in a “fairly above-board way,” using a foreign central bank. But the official, who wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name and demanded anonymity, wouldn’t say if the interest was delivered to Iran in physical cash, as with the $400 million principal, or via a more regular banking mechanism.

    The money came from a little-known fund administered by the Treasury Department for settling litigation claims. The so-called Judgment Fund is taxpayer money Congress has permanently approved in the event it’s needed, allowing the president to bypass direct congressional approval to make a settlement. The U.S. previously paid out $278 million in Iran-related claims by using the fund in 1991.

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    Gypsies, tramps and thieves....
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    Default Re: U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed

    Attorney General Lynch takes the Fifth on secret Iran ransom payments

    October 29, 20161:04 pm By Robert Spencer 34 Comments
    “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
    If we had any kind of actual opposition party, it would be investigating whether Obama’s actions regarding Iran constituted treason. But we don’t.

    “Congress: Attorney General Lynch ‘Pleads Fifth’ on Secret Iran ‘Ransom’ Payments,” by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, October 28, 2016:
    Attorney General Loretta Lynch is declining to comply with an investigation by leading members of Congress about the Obama administration’s secret efforts to send Iran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year, prompting accusations that Lynch has “pleaded the Fifth” Amendment to avoid incriminating herself over these payments, according to lawmakers and communications exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) initially presented Lynch in October with a series of questions about how the cash payment to Iran was approved and delivered.
    In an Oct. 24 response, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik responded on Lynch’s behalf, refusing to answer the questions and informing the lawmakers that they are barred from publicly disclosing any details about the cash payment, which was bound up in a ransom deal aimed at freeing several American hostages from Iran.
    The response from the attorney general’s office is “unacceptable” and provides evidence that Lynch has chosen to “essentially plead the fifth and refuse to respond to inquiries regarding [her] role in providing cash to the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” Rubio and Pompeo wrote on Friday in a follow-up letter to Lynch, according to a copy obtained by the Free Beacon.
    The inquiry launched by the lawmakers is just one of several concurrent ongoing congressional probes aimed at unearthing a full accounting of the administration’s secret negotiations with Iran.
    “It is frankly unacceptable that your department refuses to answer straightforward questions from the people’s elected representatives in Congress about an important national security issue,” the lawmakers wrote. “Your staff failed to address any of our questions, and instead provided a copy of public testimony and a lecture about the sensitivity of information associated with this issue.”
    “As the United States’ chief law enforcement officer, it is outrageous that you would essentially plead the fifth and refuse to respond to inquiries,” they stated. “The actions of your department come at time when Iran continues to hold Americans hostage and unjustly sentence them to prison.”
    The lawmakers included a copy of their previous 13 questions and are requesting that Lynch provide answers by Nov. 4.
    When asked about Lynch’s efforts to avoid answering questions about the cash payment, Pompeo told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration has blocked Congress at every turn as lawmakers attempt to investigate the payments to Iran.
    “Who knew that simple questions regarding Attorney General Lynch’s approval of billions of dollars in payments to Iran could be so controversial that she would refuse to answer them?” Pompeo said. “This has become the Obama administration’s coping mechanism for anything related to the Islamic Republic of Iran—hide information, obfuscate details, and deny answers to Congress and the American people.”
    “They know this isn’t a sustainable strategy, however, and I trust they will start to take their professional, and moral, obligations seriously,” the lawmaker added

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    Default Re: U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed


    Guess What Else Obama Gave Away In The Iran Deal?

    April 24, 2017

    If you thought you’d already heard the worst about what the Obama administration gave away in order to conclude its nuclear deal with Iran, guess again.

    In a blockbuster expos, Politico’s Josh Meyer reports that Team Obama overruled veteran prosecutors to free seven Iranians, claiming publicly they’d merely violated economic sanctions. In fact, they were charged with posing threats to US national security as part of a weapons-procurement ring.

    More, the administration also dropped charges against 14 fugitives involved in smuggling sophisticated weapons to Iran and its terrorist subsidiaries. That move ended the international arrest warrants against the 14 — and Obama & Co. had been obstructing efforts to apprehend them.

    Time and again, top officials at the White House, Justice and State departments denied prosecutors’ requests to lure one of the fugitives to friendly countries where he could be arrested. Soon, the arms merchants vanished off US law-enforcement radar.

    The president’s men also slowed down extradition efforts against suspects in custody and began slow-walking investigations and prosecutions of US-based procurement.

    In effect, the administration deliberately derailed its own National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time, Meyer reports, “when it was making significant headway in thwarting Iran’s proliferation networks.”

    And Iran got a green light to continue defying international law.

    At the time of the release, the White House said freeing the seven “civilians” was a “one-time gesture” that also brought freedom for Americans held captive in Iran.

    In fact, it was all part of a “do whatever’s needed” to get Iran’s agreement — and a “say whatever’s needed” to sell it to the American public.

    Tehran saw how desperately Obama wanted the deal and took full advantage.

    At the time of the prisoner exchange, we said the way Team Obama “got it done is ugly indeed.” Little did we know — until now.



    Obama Hid Security Threat Of Released Prisoners In Iran Deal

    April 24, 2017

    The Obama administration hid the fact that the men it let off the hook as part of a prisoner swap with Iran had been accused of supplying sensitive military equipment and electronics that could help Tehran’s nuclear program, it was reported Monday.

    Under the January 2016 deal, the US released seven prisoners and dropped its cases against 14 fugitives in exchange for Iran’s release of captive Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Politico reported.

    Three of seven men freed by the US — Bahram Mechanic, Khosrow Afghahi and Tooraj Faridi — had been charged with supplying Iran with US-built electronics and other equipment that could be used in military systems, including missiles, the news site said.

    Another, Nima Golestaneh, was allegedly behind a conspiracy to steal sensitive information, including software, from a Vermont defense contractor.

    Nader Modanlo was sentenced to eight years in federal prison in 2013 on charges stemming from a conspiracy to provide satellite technology to Tehran and of receiving $10 million to help Iran launch its first-ever satellite.

    Arash Ghahreman, a naturalized US citizen living on Staten Island, was convicted in 2015 of heading an effort for Iran to obtain US technologies with possible military and weapons uses.

    And Ali Saboonchi was convicted in 2014 of illegally shipping industrial parts and components to Iranian users.

    Of the 14 fugitives whose cases were dropped, the worst was Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, who was charged with conspiring to procure thousands of parts with nuclear applications for Tehran, including hundreds of US-made pressure transducers for centrifuges used by Iran to enrich uranium, Politico reported.

    Another was Amin Ravan, an agent for Tehran who was charged with smuggling US-made military antennae and IED parts to Hong Kong and Singapore for use in Iran.

    In announcing the swap that secured the release of Rezaian, former Marine Amir Hekmati and three other Americans, President Barack Obama referred to the seven freed men only as “civilians” and did not mention the 14 fugitives.

    Other Obama officials portrayed the seven as businessmen whose offenses were mere violations of trade sanctions.

    “They didn’t just dismiss a bunch of innocent business guys,” one former federal law-enforcement supervisor who worked on the cases told Politico. “And then they didn’t give a full story of it.”

    Republicans pounced on Monday’s disclosure, vowing to use it as a cudgel against Democrats who voted for the Iran deal.

    “Senate Democrats gave Obama a blank check on Iran, allowing dangerous arms dealers and other threats to our national security to go free,” said Katie Martin, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senate Committed.

    “Voters will remember that is was Democrats who made our country less safe by voting for former President Obama’s disastrous Iran deal when they head to the polls in 2018.”



    And the linked Politico piece...

    The Iran Deal: The Full Picture

    A snapshot of those involved in the deal, including the key players Obama didn't mention

    April 24, 2017

    On Jan. 17, 2016, President Barack Obama went on national TV to announce the formal implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, and another top-secret deal that secured the release of four Iranian-Americans imprisoned by Tehran.

    In exchange, Obama said, hewas granting clemency to six Iranian-Americans and one Iranian man convicted or awaiting trial in the U.S. for violations of U.S. sanctions laws, and that none of them were charged with “terrorism or any violent offenses.”

    Here’s a snapshot of those involved, including details of the seven cases in the U.S. and the 14 Obama didn’t mention – Iranian fugitives wanted by the U.S. that the administration dropped charges and international arrest warrants against, citing “significant foreign policy interests” and the low probability of capturing them.

    Those who were awaiting trial or appeal in the U.S., and the Iranian-Americans held by Iran, have all asserted their innocence and portrayed themselves as political pawns in the often-contentious relationship between the U.S. and Iran.


    The four Iranian-Americans freed:

    Jason Rezaian
    , of Marin County, Calif. The Tehran correspondent for The Washington Post, imprisoned in July 2014, convicted in October 2015 and sentenced to an undisclosed prison term for alleged offenses that included spying.

    Amir Hekmati, of Flint, Michigan, an American of Iranian descent and Marine who served in Iraq. Detained in 2011 while visiting relatives in Tehran, he was convicted of espionage, initially sentenced to death but then convicted of aiding a hostile country, the U.S., and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    Saeed Abedini, of Boise, Idaho, a naturalized American citizen and pastor, arrested in 2012, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for subverting Iran’s national security by creating a network of Christian house churches, or private religious gatherings.

    Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, a mystery captive whom the U.S. identified as part of the swap but provided no details. A news service run by expatriate Iranian journalists said the former California-based carpet seller may have been an FBI consultant and possibly linked to the case involving the disappearance of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson. He is believed to have stayed in Iran.


    Other Americans:

    Matthew Trevithick
    — a Hingham, Massachusetts, student detained for 40 days while doing research in Iran. Although his case was cited by Obama, he was released independently of the prisoner exchange.

    Robert Levinson — A private investigator and retired FBI and DEA agent who disappeared a decade ago, on March 9, 2007, while on the Iranian island of Kish while on secret assignment as a CIA contractor. For years, federal law enforcement officials – the FBI in particular – had been lobbying for Levinson’s release as part of any deal with Iran, especially after rumors intensified that he had died at the hands of Iranian security forces. In March 2015, the FBI increased the reward for information leading to his return to $5 million. FBI officials were outraged that his case was not part of the prisoner swap, and the bureau issued a statement the day Obama announced it, saying, “Today, the United States celebrates the safe return of four American citizens detained by the government of Iran to their families and loved ones. Unfortunately, the family of retired FBI agent Robert “Bob” Levinson still waits.’’


    The seven Iranians freed in the U.S:

    The seven men freed by the U.S. were given pardons or commutations depending on whether convicted or awaiting trial, according to a Justice Department news release that described them as violating the Iranian embargo and Export Administration Regulations but made no mention of the prisoner swap – or the dropped cases of the other 14 Iranians. Here are the details of what the sevenwere accused or convicted of, with links to their cases where possible.

    Bahram Mechanic —A dual U.S. and Iranian citizen and accused ringleader of a Houston-based procurement network operating since at least 1985. A 24-count indictment unsealed in April 2015 charged Mechanic and alleged associates Khosrow Afghahi and Tooraj Faridi with illegally supplying Iran with U.S.-origin microelectronics and other commodities “frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including surface-air and cruise missiles.” Prosecutors said Mechanic’s network, including four corporations also indicted, sent at least $24 million worth of commodities to Iran between July 2010 and early 2015 alone. “The proliferation of sensitive U.S. technologies to Iran and the direct support to their military and weapons programs remains a clear threat to U.S. national security,” then-Assistant FBI Director Randall Coleman said when the charges were announced. A report by the Institute for Science and International Security said the case highlighted how skilled Iranian procurement agents “continue to seek sensitive goods from inside the United States and increase the sophistication of their schemes in order to reduce chances of detection.” All three pleaded not guilty, and were in custody or on bail and facing more than 20 years in prison when pardoned.

    Nima Golestaneh —An Iranian national accused of spearheading an elaborate October 2012 conspiracy to steal for Iran millions of dollars worth of sensitive information from a Vermont-based defense contractor, including proprietary software to help its customers with aerodynamics analysis and design issues.

    U.S. cybersecurity experts said the case was part of a broader campaign by Iran to hack aerospace firms, airports and airlines around the world. The government of Turkey had turned over Golestaneh, reportedly in an effort to persuade the U.S. to extradite Pennsylvania-based activist and cleric Fethullah Gulen, who was wanted in Turkey on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Golestaneh had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and computer fraud; he was in custody and scheduled to be sentenced when freed.

    Nader Modanlo — A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran and living in Potomac, Maryland, Modanlo was convicted in June 2013 of charges arising from a conspiracy to illegally provide satellite hardware and technology to Iranover many years, and with receiving $10 million as part of a secret effort to help Tehran launch its first-ever satellite. When Modanlo, who also had worked for NASA subcontractors, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison, senior Defense Criminal Investigative Service official Robert E. Craig, Jr. said the case showed how the U.S. will “aggressively and tirelessly pursue and prosecute anyone who willfully violates laws that are designed to preserve and protect our nation’s most critical technologies and resources … [to ensure] the safety of America’s warfighters and all Americans.” Modanlo initially refused the deal, citing his pending appeal, but accepted it after authorities dropped their $10 millionclaim on his assets.

    Arash Ghahreman — A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran, Ghahreman was a former engineer for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, which has been sanctioned by the U.S., United Nations and EU for advancing Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Ghahreman headed a U.S.-based Iranian procurement network that acquired a wide array of American goods and technologies with possible military and weapons uses for users in Iran. A years-long undercover operation produced video of the Staten Island, New York, resident discussing with federal agents posing as prospective suppliers how some items could be used for electronic warfare, and how the initial deal could lead to a lucrative business relationship because his associates needed “reliable, trustable partners.” After a San Diego jury convicted him in April 2015, the Justice Department’s top national security official, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, said “these violations of the Iran Trade Embargo have the potential to harm U.S. national security objectives …” Ghahreman was serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence when freed.

    Ali Saboonchi — A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran and living in Parkville, Maryland, Saboonchi was accused of setting up the Ace Electric Co. at the behest of an Iranian co-conspirator, and using it as part of a procurement network that illegally shipped industrial parts and components to Iranian users. After he was convicted in August 2014, FBI’s Baltimore chief Steve Vogt said, "This case and trial gave the public a rare view into the lengths Mr. Saboonchi and others like him will go to break the law of this country and aid our foreign adversaries. We work every day to keep what may seem like benign technology and ideas created here in America from being used against us.” Saboonchi was serving a two-year sentence in a federal prison in Virginia when released.


    The 14 fugitives whose cases and international arrest warrants were dropped:

    The Justice Department and other U.S. agencies never provided details of the 14 cases against Iranian fugitives that it dropped as part of the deal, including the names of the defendants or the charges against them, only confirming the cases of the seven men granted clemency by Obama. These case histories have been compiled from federal court documents and other records, based on identities of the men initially disclosed by Iran’s FARS news service. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari initially told reporters in Tehran that a total of 28 Iranians “were freed or were relieved of judicial restrictions within the framework of the agreement," but did not identify the other seven, and those cases have never been confirmed. U.S. officials had no comment.

    Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili —An Iranian import-export businessman charged with procuring nuclear-related equipment for Iran from 2005 through 2012, including conspiring with Chinese associate Sihai Cheng to obtain hundreds of U.S.-made pressure transducers for the gas centrifuges Iran used to secretly enrich uranium. “As this case illustrates, the FBI will do everything it can to keep U.S. weapons technology and other restricted materials from falling into the wrong hands and hurting our nation’s security,” the FBI’s Boston director Harold Shaw said after Cheng pleaded guilty Dec. 18, 2015 and was sentenced to nine years in prison. But on Jan. 16, 2016, the same Boston prosecutors who charged Cheng, Jamili and two Iranian companies in 2013 were told by superiors to dismiss all charges against Jamili “based upon issues regarding securing extradition of the defendant and significant foreign policy interests.”

    Amin Ravan —An Iranian citizen known to be a long-time procurement agent for Iran, Ravan and his Iran-based company IC Market Iran were charged in 2011 with smuggling U.S.-made military antennas to Hong Kong and Singapore. Authorities alleged that Ravan worked with a Singapore firm, Corezing International, to acquire the antennas and a wide array of other components for users in Iran.They also say he was involved in a sprawling Iranian procurement network that was charged with helping Iran acquire U.S. radio frequency modules and other components that ended up in a particularly deadly form of IED that was responsible for killing many American troops in Iraq. Ravan was arrested in Malaysia in 2012, and released before U.S. authorities could have him extradited.

    Behrouz Dolatzadeh — An Iranian citizen and longtime weapons smuggler for Iran, Dolatzadeh is suspected by U.S. authorities of being active as far back as 1995 in a wide range of procurement activities, some in connection with a secretive business empire linked to Iran’s hard-line Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was indicted under seal in Arizona in February 2012, lured to the Czech Republic by an undercover agent, arrested and charged in connection with an alleged scheme to buy thousands of U.S.-made assault rifles for ultimate use in Iran. Dolatzadeh was convicted by a Czech court on local arms smuggling charges but released, after claiming entrapment on appeal. Authorities said Dolatzadeh was also charged in a 1995 case in Ohio with being part of a seven-person conspiracy to ship sensitive military radios, scramblers and decoders to Iran. One senior Justice Department prosecutor called the network “a serious threat to national security'' at the time. Dolatzadeh was identified as an official with the Iranian Defense Ministry, according to a 1995 report on the indictment by The Associated Press.

    Hamid Arabnejad, Gholamreza Mahmoudi and Ali Moattar —Three Iranian citizens and executives at Mahan Air, they were indicted in 2014 in connection with a conspiracy to illegally obtain by lease agreement as many as six Boeing airplanes on behalf of the private Iranian airline. The Treasury Department officially sanctioned Mahan Air in 2011 for providing financial material and technological support to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and its elite Qods Force, saying the paramilitary group transported personnel, weapons and goods on behalf of Lebanese Hezbollah. Arabnejad was individually sanctioned for allegedly overseeing Mahan Air’s efforts to evade U.S. and international sanctions, for working closely with Qods Force to coordinate Mahan Air’s support and services for it and for facilitating illicit cargo shipments to Syria. Mahmoudi, authorities alleged, was a corporate director who worked closely with Arabnejad, including “on sanctions evasion strategies to acquire U.S. aircraft.” Treasury also sanctioned front companies it said served as “part of the procurement backbone of Mahan Air, enabling the sanctioned airline to continue ferrying significant quantities of weapons and other illicit cargo into Syria on its own passenger aircraft to support the Assad regime’s violent crackdown against its own citizens.”

    Matin Sadeghi —A Turkish national indicted in April 2015 as part of Bahram Mechanic’s Houston-based procurement network, Sadeghi allegedly used his Istanbul trading company as an intermediary shippingpoint for dual-use U.S.-origin electronics exported illegally to Iran, including commodities “frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including surface-air and cruise missiles.” Sadeghi played a key role in helping Mechanic’s procurement network ship at least 28 million parts — worth $24 million — to Iran from 2010 to 2015, buying them from companies around the world and shipping them via third-party countries Turkey and Taiwan to evade U.S. restrictions, the indictment said.

    Koorush Taherkhani —An Iranian national and alleged co-conspirator in Ghahreman’s procurement network, Taherkhani was the managing director and founder of TIG Marine Engineering Services in Dubai, which was indicted along with him. Prosecutors said he used the firm as a front company to acquire U.S.-made navigation equipment for ultimate use in Iran. Like Ghahreman, he was an engineer for various Iranian shipping companies, including the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and its subsidiaries. Taherkhani was also accused of hiring a fifth co-defendant, German national and Dubai resident Ergun Yildiz, to be the “face” of the front company to hide the Iranian connection. Yildiz ultimately assisted U.S. authorities and won early release.

    Alireza Moazami Goudarzi —An Iranian citizen, Goudarzi was charged in November 2012 in connection with an international conspiracy to illegally procure U.S. aircraft parts to Iran, including rotor blades for attack helicopters and other military and restricted aviation components. He was arrested after meeting with an undercover U.S. agent in Malaysia to purchase parts. Goudarzi’s indictment “reinforces HSI’s commitment to dismantle foreign procurement networks seeking to obtain sensitive technologies and components,” James Hayes, Jr., who headed DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, said at the time. “These procurement networks pose a serious threat to our national security.” The Malaysian government refused to extradite Goudarzi to the U.S. and released him. His was the only case in which a federal judge questioned the Justice Department’s request to drop the charges, but the judge later approved it.

    Jalal Salami — A dual U.S. and Iranian citizen who allegedly used his San Marco, California, firm in a conspiracy to procure U.S. electronic components for ultimate use in Iran through Malaysia. He was charged in 2011 with 29 counts related to the conspiracy. Two others, Iranian citizens Sajad Farhadi and Seyed Ahmad Abtahi, were also part of the procurement network, prosecutors said. Both worked for a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, firm that acted as a transshipment point for the U.S.-origin components. Authorities allege that Farhadi oversaw the Malaysia operations while Abtahi managed operations from Iran and identified specific components to be procured from U.S. companies. All three faced charges that could lead to long prison terms when the cases were dropped.

    Mohammed A. Sharbaf — An Iranian citizen indicted with two others in 2005 for allegedly being part of a conspiracy to procure U.S.-origin forklift parts in violation of U.S. sanctions. Authorities said Sharbaf, president and managing director of Sepahan Lifter Co. in Iran, sought to illegally import forklift parts via a Dubai trading company.

    Mohammad Abbas Mohammadi —An Iranian citizen charged in 2013 with conspiring to illegally procure U.S.-origin aircraft parts – including engines – for use in civilian and military aircraft in Iran. The indictment alleges that Mohammadi was working on behalf of Iranian Aircraft Industries, a company controlled by the Tehran government, and that the parts were for the Iranian government’s military and civilian aircraft fleet.

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