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.
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."