State Department Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau Addresses Timing of $400M Cash Shipment and Prisoner Exchange with Iran (Excerpts)

August 8, 2016

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QUESTION: Okay. I don’t have a lot today, but let’s start with seeing if I can get an answer to a question that I asked – that was asked twice last week, having to do with Iran and the $400 million shipment. And that question is: Are you now able to say whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off from Tehran? Because as you may know, since the question was last asked on Thursday, one of the former prisoners said that they had to wait for this other plane, or at least another plane to arrive. Are you able to shed any more light on that?

MS TRUDEAU: So I’m not going to get into the tick-tock of specifics, but claims that our freed Americans were not allowed to depart Iran until a plane full of cash landed anywhere are false. As U.S. officials have previously publicly discussed, there was a delay in our citizens being released that day that had nothing to do with the Hague settlement and was related to resolving some last-minute issues solely related to the prisoners – most importantly, locating and ensuring all of the individuals who were involved with the prisoner swap were on the plane and ready to depart – Mr. Rezaian, Mr. Abedini, Mr. Hekmati. Suffice it to say getting all the pieces put into place, making sure our citizens were released, and with our reciprocal goodwill gesture of providing relief to certain Iranian citizens here in the United States, required delicate diplomacy up to the end. So I think that answers your question.

QUESTION: Okay. I missed the part where you said that – when the plane arrived.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. We – it was the question if there was a delay before the taking off until a plane coming down. It was false.

QUESTION: There was not. So in other words --

MS TRUDEAU: There was not a delay.

QUESTION: In other --

MS TRUDEAU: There was no timing that was associated between the two.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, whether or not you intended for there to be timing or not, is it correct that the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off?

MS TRUDEAU: No. Claims that the freed Americans were not allowed to depart until a plane full of cash – and I’m doing that in air quotes – are just false.

QUESTION: Yeah, but still, in terms of the timing of it, did one arrive before the other left?

MS TRUDEAU: There was no delay in allowing the Americans to leave.

QUESTION: But you just said there was a delay and it was related to the --

MS TRUDEAU: Well, there was no delay waiting for a second plane full of cash.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.

QUESTION: I understand that you don’t want to draw any connection between the two things. I just want – I just want to know whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I’m not going to get into a tick-tock. What I do, though, want to disassociate the idea – that you haven’t said but has been in the public narrative – that there was some sort of tie between the two.

QUESTION: Yeah, I realize that you guys don’t think there was. But it seems a very simple question to ask whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off. I mean, I don’t --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I’ve – I have no exact tick-tock on that. What I do know is that the plane with the Americans was only delayed being – taking off because of logistics that were associated with the people on board.

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