Wednesday, 17 August 2016

President Obama Has Endangered Christians

Last January I was hugely relieved to hear that Pastor Saeed Abedini had been released from prison in Iran where he had been held for several years and sentenced to death for being a Christian and a missionary. He was one of five American citizens released from Iran and permitted to return to the USA as part of a diplomatic deal.

Now evidence has emerged that the diplomatic deal seems also to have included the transference of large sums of money from the USA to Iran. Iran TV showed a video of large amounts of cash  - allegedly $400 million  - being delivered as part of the deal. 
President Obama has said that the agreement included the restoration to Iran of assets that had been frozen several decades ago, but insisted that this did not amount to any form of payment, bribe or ransom.
   To observers, his denial is not convincing. If the money was handed over at the very same time, it looks as if it was one of the conditions for the release of the prisoners. A condition for release is a ransom, isn't it? By agreeing to such terms, the USA has encouraged the taking of more prisoners, hostages and kidnap victims all over the world. It has put its own citizens, particularly Christians, in danger. How weak and grovelling John Kerry and President Obama look in comparison with previous US leaders. I cannot imagine Madeleine Albright giving in to such demands, nor Condaleeza Rice. This is something that lowers America in the eyes of the world.  At a time when there is undoubtedly a War on Christians -  where priests like Father Hamel are murdered in their own churches during Mass and only last month several people were executed in North Korea merely for possessing  a bible  - it is giving all the wrong messages.

Washington (CNN)A video emerged Friday that purportedly shows a US payment of $400 million worth of cash delivered to Iran on the day Tehran released several American prisoners in January.
CNN cannot authenticate the newly surfaced video, which was part of an Iranian documentary that first aired in January and shows the money on pallets in a warehouse. But the latest wrinkle is bound to fuel critics of the administration who have accused Obama of providing ransom to the Iranian government in exchange for the release of four US prisoners. A fifth American was released separately.
    The Obama administration has vehemently denied any connection between the cash delivery and the release of the American prisoners.
    "We announced these payments in January. Many months ago. They were not a secret," Obama told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday.
    "It was not a nefarious deal," Obama said, adding, "We do not pay ransom for hostages."
    However, US officials, while denying a connection, have publicly admitted that the timing of the two transactions -- US prisoners leaving Iran as hundreds of millions of dollars arrived -- involved problematic optics.
    Others have raised questions as to whether the release of the Americans was conditional upon the payment of the money and whether it encourages more questionable arrests by Iran of Americans living there.
    A US official told CNN that is was "unknowable" whether Iran would have freed the prisoners without the settlement payment.
    And an Obama administration official insisted Saturday that the release of Iranian nationals from US prisons as part of the swap for the incarcerated US citizens was "not conditional on any payment. Their release was conditional on the series of commutations and pardons (the Department of Justice) spoke to at the time."

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