NEW YORK. — Members of the US Republican Party asked officials in Tehran to delay a January prisoner swap until after the 2016 presidential election, an Iranian admiral told FRANCE 24 on Thursday.
Iran released four US citizens being held in Iran on January 16, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.
In return the US said it was offering clemency to seven Iranians being held for sanctions violations and dropped charges against 14 more.
In his first interview with French media, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, who is secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, told FRANCE 24 that US Republicans — wary of allowing President Barack Obama to win a public relations victory ahead of the US presidential election in November — asked for the swap to be put on hold.
“We were carrying out negotiations with the Obama administration, when representatives of the Republican Party got in touch with us,” Shamkhani said. “As a favour, they asked us to do what we could to hinder the talks and to push them back until after the next US presidential elections — in other words, after President Obama’s departure.”
“I felt that this rivalry at the heart of American power was inappropriate,” Shamkhani added.
“It seems that the Republicans relegated humanity to second place after political expediency, which I found very surprising. But we succeeded, and the prisoners were released during Obama’s mandate.” — France24.