Donald Trump has issued a warning about President Joe Biden’s deal to secure five US citizens detained by Iran. The deal, announced in August and taking two years to negotiate, has come under scrutiny over its concessions to Iran. The Biden administration agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian oil funds currently held in a South Korea bank and return five Iranian prisoners who have faced charges in the U.S. in exchange for the five Americans. Critics of the deal have said it could risk national security or encourage the capture of more Americans.
Trump, who is running in the 2024 Republican primary election to challenge Biden next November, blasted the deal, while touting his own efforts to retrieve hostages during his administration. He wrote that “I brought 58 HOSTAGES home from many different countries, including North Korea, and I never paid anything. They all understood they MUST LET THESE PEOPLE COME HOME!” Trump’s critique of the deal came just hours after a plane carrying the five hostages, as well as two of their family members who had been barred from leaving Iran, left the country on Monday morning.
Three of the American hostages freed on Monday have been identified as Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, and Morad Tahbaz, while the identities of two have not been revealed. Namazi had been detained since 2015, while Sharghi and Tahbaz were arrested in 2018. Trump has been critical of Biden’s previous deals to secure the release of U.S. citizens from the custody of its adversaries, such as Biden’s deal to secure the release of WNBA player Brittney Griner who was held in Russia for possession of cannabis products last year in exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The Biden administration has defended the exchange, stating that the $6 billion will be held in a secure account in Qatar and can only be used for humanitarian purposes.