An Iranian leader is making a shocking claim that Republican leaders in the United States "sent a message" to Iranian leaders asking them delay the release of Americans held prisoner in Iran until the eve of US presidential elections."
The accusation that the U.S. GOP tried to sabotage the release of the Americans was made by the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani in a speech Thursday.
Iran released four Americans -- Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former Marine Amir Hekmati, pastor Saeed Abedini and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari -- last month after 14 months of secret negotiations. In exchange, the United States dropped charges against seven Iranians who had been convicted in the U.S. for sanctions violations.
"In the course of the talks for exchanging prisoners, the Republican rivals of the current US administration who claim to be humanitarians and advocates of human rights sent a message telling us not to release these people (American prisoners) and continue this process (of talks) until the eve of US presidential elections," Shamkhani said Thursday in an address to a rally held in the central city of Yazd to mark the 37th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution's victory. "However, we acted upon our independent resolve and moved the process forward."
The Iranian official did not name the "Republican rivals" or detail how the message was sent.
Republican presidential candidates sharply criticized the Obama administration for not demanding the release of the American prisoners before agreeing with Iran on a nuclear deal.