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Statement contradicts Biden Administration's contention that the funds will only be used "for humanitarian purposes"

Stop Iran Now

September 12, 2023

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says his government will spend the $6 billion in previously frozen funds being released in exchange for five American prisoners "wherever we need it," even while U.S. officials insist the money is only to be spent on humanitarian needs.

"This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money," Raisi said in an exclusive interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, according to an Iranian government translator.

He also said that the American prisoners are in "very healthy" condition and will be coming home soon. The prisoners' families also do not agree with Raisi on their well-being, saying they have been subjected to mistreatment and lengthy questioning.

Siamak Namazi, one of the prisoners since 2015, said he was held in solitary confinement for the first 27 months of his imprisonment, and his brother, Babak Namazi, said he had been beaten.

The prisoner exchange arrangement allows Tehran access to $6 billion in Iranian oil revenues that had been blocked in South Korean banks after U.S. sanctions.

But with the agreement, officials say that Qatar's central bank is to oversee the funds, allowing Iran to only use the money for humanitarian reasons that are in accord with U.S. sanctions.

But Raisi said, "Humanitarian means whatever the Iranian people need, so this money will be budgeted for those needs and the needs of the Iranian people will be decided and determined by the Iranian government."

The prisoner exchange also calls for five Iranians being held in the United States to be released.

As a first step in the arrangement, the American prisoners were put under house arrest on Aug. 10, with their release depending on the transfer of funds to Qatar's central bank.

Given its own ties to terror financing many observers have questioned whether the Qatari oversight is akin to allowing the fox to guard the henhouse.

On Monday, the Biden administration informed Congress that it had cleared the way for the exchange and issued a waiver that allows international banks to transfer the money to Qatar without any threat of U.S. sanctions.

It is well established that Iran used the billions it reaped from the Obama Biden 2015 Iran deal to finance its nuclear and conventional war machines; sponsor terror attacks throughout the Middle East and around the globe; and bankroll Assad's genocide in Syria. The Iranian regime is fueling the war in Ukraine by providing drones, munition and training to the Russians.

Iranian activists are outraged at the legitimization and attempted humanization of Raisi, one of the Islamic republic’s most notorious killers. In 1988, while deputy prosecutor of Tehran, Raisi served on a Death Commission which sentenced approximately 5,000 prisoners to death (30,000 by some estimates), including women and children, without the right to appeal or a fair trial. Raisi is proud of his record; in 2018, he defended the commission, calling it “divine punishment” and “one of the proud achievements of the system.” In the decades since, Raisi continued to subject the Iranian people to extrajudicial prosecution, torture, and execution, such as during the 2009 Green Revolution or in his more recent tenure as the head of Iran’s judiciary. Raisi’s role in these gross human rights abuses led the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to sanction him in 2019, pursuant to Executive Order 13876.

Given Raisi’s involvement in mass murder and the Iranian regime’s campaign to assassinate U.S. officials on American soil Raisi should be condemned and ostracized - not legitimized and emboldened.


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