Trump later backpedaled saying he was mistaken and saw footage of the hostages plane. In a turn of events, he may have been right without knowing it. What are your thoughts?
Iranian state-run media in Tehran did indeed videotape the arrival of a January 17 flight carrying $400 million in cash from the United States – and the money itself – judging from a documentary that aired the following month in the Islamic republic.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been in a firestorm of controversy since first claiming on Wednesday to have seen ‘secret’ footage of money being offloaded from an aircraft.
He admitted Friday morning on Twitter what his campaign had said more than a day earlier, that he had seen ordinary archival footage of a different plane, carrying American hostages freed from Iran arriving in Geneva Switzerland after the money changed hands.
But it turns out he may have been right without knowing it.
The Iranian video was aired February 15 on the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting television network, as part of a documentary called ‘Rules of the Game.’
A narrator, speaking in Persian, describes a money-for-hostages transaction over video clips of a plane on an airport tarmac in the dead of night and a photo of a giant shipping pallet stacked with what appear to be banknotes.
The federal government shipped what many are calling a ransom payment in Euros and other non-U.S. currencies.
The copy of the documentary footage DailyMail.com obtained is not of high enough quality to determine which nation’s banknotes are depicted.
None of the footage is stamped with a date or time, making it impossible to know when it was shot.
And the broadcaster blurred out one portion of the screen, covering up something resting on top of the mountain of money.
But the documentary begins with a narration saying: ‘In the early morning hours of January 17, 2016 at Mehrabad Airport, $400 million in cash was transported to Iran on an airplane.’
The film describes the Obama administration’s prisoner swap and Iran’s cash windfall from Tehran’s point of view as ‘a win-lose deal that benefits the Islamic Republic of Iran and hurts the United States,’ according to two English-language translations DailyMail.com obtained.
It outlines what Iran’s mullahs promoted at the time as a one-sided transaction loaded with perks for Tehran.
‘The Islamic republic made an expensive offer to the equation: the release of seven Iranian prisoners in the United States, $1.7 billion, and the lifting of sanctions against 16 Iranians who were prosecuted by the U.S. legal system with the unjust excuse of sanctions violations,’ the narrator intones.
‘But this was not all the Iranians’ demands. Lifting sanctions against Sepah Bank was added to Iran’s list. All of this, in return for the release of only four American citizens: a win-lose deal that benefits the Islamic Republic of Iran and hurts the United States.’
Among the four freed Americans were Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, pastor Saeed Abedini and U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The White House was quick to insist on Thursday that the Obama administration had not paid for their release.
‘Let me be clear: The United States does not pay ransom, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, questioning the motives of Republican who were ‘falsely accusing us of paying a ransom.’
President Barack Obama told reporters: ‘We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here. And we don’t – we won’t in the future – precisely because if we did, then we would start encouraging Americans to be targeted, much in the same way that some countries that do pay ransom end up having a lot more of their citizens being taken by various groups.’
The IRIB network’s producers framed the deal in election-year political terms, boasting that Iran had made the Obama administration vulnerable to Republican finger-pointing if they found out the terms of the deal.