Five American hostages were released from Iranian custody Monday morning in exchange for five Iranians and $6 billion in unfrozen cash.
"Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz, Emad Sharghi, and two citizens who wish to remain private will soon be reunited with their loved ones—after enduring years of agony, uncertainty, and suffering. I am grateful to our partners at home and abroad for their tireless efforts to help us achieve this outcome, including the Governments of Qatar, Oman, Switzerland, and South Korea," President Joe Biden released in a statement.
"As we celebrate the return of these Americans, we also remember those who did not return. I call on the Iranian regime to give a full account of what happened to Bob Levinson. The Levinson family deserves answers. Today, we are sanctioning former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the Levinson Act for their involvement in wrongful detentions. And, we will continue to impose costs on Iran for their provocative actions in the region," he continued. "And as we welcome home our fellow citizens, I once more remind all Americans of the serious risks of traveling to Iran. American passport holders should not travel there."
Spoke with the five American citizens freed from Iran today and told them we can’t wait to see them back home with their loved ones. @POTUS and I will not rest until we bring home every wrongfully detained American. pic.twitter.com/7ND26atF6u— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 18, 2023
Five US detainees flew out of Iran in a swap for five Iranians held in the US in a rare deal between the arch enemies that also unfroze $6 billion of Tehran's funds https://t.co/f00siITwcW pic.twitter.com/kw4cvqYK4Y— Reuters (@Reuters) September 18, 2023
But the exchange of cash for hostages, which the Biden administration claims wasn't a ransom payment, is causing alarm. Many are warning the swap will only encourage additional hostage taking and other hostile behavior.
Who would have guessed that Iran would announce a new drone only days after receiving $6b in ransom from the US? We literally provided massive financial support to the world's largest state sponsor of terror. https://t.co/OlhBQZkqN3— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) September 17, 2023
It’s a relief to see the hostages freed. But beginning on Nov 4th, 1979, the regime in Iran has turned hostage taking into an merciless extortion racket.— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) September 18, 2023
The regime must a pay a severe price for abusing Americans. As long as we’re the ones paying, more Americans will be taken.
President Biden’s embarrassing appeasement of Iran only endangers Americans and our allies. My op-ed: https://t.co/pM3fXFr4P0— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) September 14, 2023
President Biden’s foreign policy is an absolute disaster.— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 13, 2023
Recently, he paid the murderous and evil Iranian regime $6B to release American hostages.
This sends a message to every terrorist around the world— taking Americans for ransom is a profitable endeavor. pic.twitter.com/5c8zY1gVsg
Hostage-taking is one of Iran's most lucrative industries. https://t.co/aoBWJC4VER— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) September 18, 2023
The White House maintains this was the "best deal" they could get.
.@JacquiHeinrich: "Didn't they also get five Iranians?"— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 13, 2023
JOHN KIRBY: "Yeah."@JacquiHeinrich: "Then why did we need to add $6 billion dollars on top of that?!"
JOHN KIRBY: "This is the deal that we were able to strike." pic.twitter.com/7hy36Mj0Eg