Republican lawmakers scold Biden for Iran prisoner swap deal

A group of 26 US Republican lawmakers slammed the Biden administration’s cash-for-prisoner agreement with Iran on Friday, demanding an explanation for the potential “sidestepping of Congress” to pursue the accord.

Washington and Tehran reached a deal, via Omani and Qatari mediators, that will see billions of dollars of Iranian funds unfrozen and Iranian prisoners freed in exchange for the release of five detained Americans.

The senators wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen voicing their “significant concern” over the decision to release an estimated $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.

“While we firmly believe the United States must use every appropriate resource to secure the release of American citizens wrongfully detained overseas, this decision will reinforce an incredibly dangerous precedent and enable the Iranian regime to increase its destabilizing activities across the Middle East,” the letter read.

“Seven years later, the current administration is providing a ransom payment worth at least fifteen times that amount to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, in yet another violation of the United States’ long-standing ‘no concessions’ policy,” the senators wrote.

They also warned that this would only encourage additional hostage-taking in return for financial or political gain.

The Republican senators stated they feared the recent deal was an attempt to “sidestep” Congress and pursue alternative paths to financially compensate Iran “in an attempt to renegotiate a successor to the ill-fated 2015 nuclear deal.”

The Obama administration cut a similar deal with Iran when it released $400 million in liquidated assets to Iran in 2016 in return for Americans detained by Tehran.

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