According to an Iranian news outlet with ties to the country’s Revolutionary Guard, Iranian officials have decided to “wait and see” if the the U.S. will offer “many billions of dollars to release” businessman, Siamak Namazi, and his 80-year-old father Baquer Namazi. The two Americans were convicted of “cooperating with the hostile American government” and sentenced last Tuesday.
The Obama administration paid Iran $1.7 billion at nearly the same time as the country released a number of American hostages. The White House insisted that the money was not a ransom payment, but in September, President Hassan Rouhani suggested that the exchange was indeed a ransom payment.
The Islamic Republic believes that the U.S. has owed them money since 1979, when economic sanctions were first imposed by the United States.
NBC News’s Chuck Todd held an exclusive interview with Rouhani, where he asked if the country was holding American hostages until the U.S. handed over this money.
“There were two issues,” Rouhani said. “One of them were the sums of monies belonging to the nation of Iran left in the United States, seized in the United States.” He added, “There are still considerable sums of money in the United States that belong to our nation. And we’re currently conducting conversations and various dialogues in order to return this money to Iran.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in September that would have outlawed ransom payments to Iran. However, the Obama administration has threatened to veto such legislation if it is passed by the whole of Congress. He said it might affect other business the U.S. plans to conduct with Iran, the Washington Post reported.