State Department spokesman John Kirby took a somewhat unique stance on exactly what “ransom” entails Thursday, saying on CNN that tying a $400 million cash payment to Iran to the release of hostages wasn’t ransom, because Iran released the hostages first.
Kirby began by giving the standard administration line on Erin Burnett Outfront. “First of all, this is Iran’s money and it was money that was awarded to them by the Hague tribunal. It was a process that had been working independently for many months prior to that,” he said.
But then he gave a second explanation: “Number two, the way I think ransom works is you — you have to pay first and then you get your hostages back and that’s not what happened here. We got our American citizens out first… and the $400 million that was Iran’s was released to them.”
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) August 18, 2016
Most dictionaries define “ransom” as giving a payment in exchange for hostages, without specifying whether the payment must necessarily come before the release of hostages.
Watch above, via CNN.
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