State Department gave Iran $400M to free American prisoners

WASHINGTON – The United States used a plane filled with $400 million in cash intended for Iran as “leverage” to ensure that American prisoners were released by Tehran, a State Department spokesman said Thursday.

The money was held up because of concern Iran would not come through on its agreement to release the prisoners earlier this year, spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby insisted the money was not a quid pro quo for the hostage release, explaining that Tehran ultimately would have received the money, separate from the prisoner release.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the holding up of the money until the prisoners were let go.