US Elections 2016

Claims of secret cash delivery to Iran were wrong

Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the Iowa Events Centre in Des Moines, Iowa.
Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the Iowa Events Centre in Des Moines, Iowa.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Mr Donald Trump acknowledged yesterday he was wrong in claiming to have seen secret Iranian footage of US$400 million (S$536 million) in cash being delivered to Teheran as payment for the release of US prisoners.

Mr Trump raised eyebrows this week when he made that assertion and gave many details of what he said he saw in the film.

"Remember this: Iran - I don't think you heard this anywhere but here - Iran provided all of that footage, the tape of taking that money off the airplane," Mr Trump said on Wednesday at a rally in Florida. "Right?" But that widely viewed footage is believed instead to show the moment in January when three of five American prisoners freed by Iran get off a plane in Geneva.

In a tweet yesterday, Mr Trump said this is indeed what he saw. It is rare for the free-wheeling Republican presidential nominee - known for making provocative claims - to admit making a mistake.

"The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying US$400 million in cash going to Iran!" Mr Trump wrote.

ERROR MESSAGE

The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying US$400 million in cash going to Iran!

MR DONALD TRUMP, in yesterday's tweet.

The story of the seemingly cloak and dagger money transfer in an unmarked plane was broken this week by the Wall Street Journal.

In January, five American prisoners were released as Washington granted clemency to seven Iranians and withdrew arrest warrants for 14 others.

Soon thereafter, the United States helped airlift US$400 million worth of Swiss francs and euros to Iran. But President Barack Obama says the payment was not ransom for the release of US prisoners.

The White House has said it was returning cash from a 1970s Iranian military order that was not fulfilled because of the Islamic Revolution.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2016, with the headline 'Claims of secret cash delivery to Iran were wrong'. Print Edition | Subscribe