Sean Hannity commenting on Biden's prisoner swap deal with Iran

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Right-wing media attack President Biden over deal to free American prisoners held unjustly by Iran

They didn’t mention that the Trump administration engaged in prisoner swaps and reportedly authorized a $2 million payment to free an American

Right-wing media erupted in outrage over news that the Biden administration was advancing a deal with Iran to free five Americans held unjustly in that country. They falsely accused the administration of paying a ransom (the money actually belongs to Iran) and encouraging more hostage-taking by agreeing to the deal, which includes the release of five Iranian citizens detained in the U.S.

Unmentioned in this right-wing media outrage are the instances in which former President Donald Trump exchanged prisoners with Iran to free Americans and reportedly authorized a $2 million payment to North Korea to secure the release of American citizen Otto Warmbier. But right-wing outlets did find time to attack the Biden administration for officially notifying Congress about the progress of the deal on the anniversary of 9/11.

  • The money is not a ransom, and Trump previously authorized a payment for the release of an American citizen and did prisoner swaps with Iran

    • The $6 billion fund being released to Iran as part of this deal is not a payment from the U.S. In fact, it is Iranian money that has been frozen in South Korea and is being transferred to Qatar in a restricted account with U.S. oversight to purchase humanitarian goods, in compliance with existing sanctions. [CNN, 8/10/23; BBC, 9/12/23]
    • The Biden administration informed Congress that the deal includes a prisoner swap, freeing five Iranians from detention in the U.S. The notification also included Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s waiver for international banks to transfer the Iranian funds without violating sanctions, which was issued in the previous week. [NBC News, 9/11/23]
    • At least two of the Americans unjustly held by Iran have been imprisoned since the Trump administration. NBC News reported that “human rights groups say the espionage charges against” the U.S. citizens “are without foundation,” and that of the publicly identified prisoners expected to be released as part of the deal, two were imprisoned on espionage charges in 2018 and 2020. [NBC News, 9/11/23]
    • Former President Donald Trump reportedly approved a $2 million payment to North Korea to secure the release of American hostage Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after North Korea released him. [Reuters, 4/25/19]
    • The Trump administration once reportedly considered taking part in a French plan to give Iran a $15 billion line of credit in exchange for the country’s compliance with the now-defunct nuclear deal brokered by the U.S. [The Daily Beast, 9/11/19
    • The Trump administration also on several occasions conducted prisoner exchanges with Iran and with Iranian-backed militants in Yemen. [, 12/16/22]
    • Waivers for the deal were signed the week of September 3, after reports about the deal had been public since at least mid-August, and the Biden administration notified Congress on the deal's progress on September 11. [The Washington Post, 8/10/23; CNN, 8/10/23; The Associated Press, 9/11/23]
  • Right-wing media falsely labeled the deal to release Americans from Iran a “ransom”

    • Fox host Sean Hannity: “This has got to be the biggest ransom payment … in the history of the world.” Hannity added: “Boy, that's just brilliant. And I don't know who's making these psychotic decisions at Joe's White House, but the president, Joe, doesn't seem to have a firm grip on anything.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/11/23]
    • The Gateway Pundit: “On Anniversary of 9-11 Attacks: Biden Regime Finalizes $6 Billion Ransom Payment to Iran in Exchange for 5 Prisoners.” The article added: “The Iranians used Barack Obama’s ransom payment to fund their military. It won’t be any different this time.” [The Gateway Pundit, 9/12/23]
    • Fox contributor Tammy Bruce: “Horrible. $6 billion in ransom to Iran. As the world continues to prepare for war. My God.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
    • The Daily Caller: “Biden Admin Green Light’s $6 Billion ‘Ransom’ Payment To Iran In Exchange For American Prisoners.” [The Daily Caller, 9/11/23]
    • Conservative Political Action Conference senior fellow Mercedes Schlapp: “Not only does President Biden skip the 9/11 anniversary events, but his Administration today handed over $6 billion to our enemy Iran for a hostage swap and the largest ransom payment to a terrorist state.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
    • Former Newsmax host John Cardillo: “Biden admin strikes deal with Iran to swap prisoners, release $6 billion in frozen funds. This demented old moron is paying ransom to terrorists.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
    • WND: “Biden greenlights $6 billion 'ransom' to Iran in exchange for American prisoners.” [WND, 9/11/23]
  • Right-wing media claimed the deal incentivizes hostage-taking by Iran even though Trump also did prisoner swaps

    • Fox & Friends claimed the deal will encourage Iran to take more hostages. Co-host Brian Kilmeade said, “The next five families are going to be affected because this — because taking hostages pays.” Co-hosts Pete Hegseth and Ainsley Earhardt agreed, with Earhardt asking: “What message does this send? It says if you go over to a dangerous country, then they can grab you, they can hold you hostage until we're willing to pay money to get you back.” Kilmeade also discouraged Iranian Americans from ever traveling to Iran, saying that “we can’t guarantee your safety” and bizarrely adding that “it’s not in our national security interest to do these swaps.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/12/23]
    • Newsmax contributor Christian Whiton: “It’s only going to encourage more” hostage taking by Iran. [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 9/11/23]
    • Townhall: “It is an utterly asinine deal that only further incentivizes Iran and its proxies to continue targeting U.S. citizens for abduction and detention.” The Townhall article continued: “The Biden administration's deal sends a dangerous message directly to Iran and its tyrannical regime: each U.S. citizen held captive by Iran is worth one Iranian citizen held in the U.S. plus some $1.2 billion.” [Townhall, 9/11/23]
    • Turning Point USA CEO Charlie Kirk: “Instead of making it an even trade, we also offer to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds, rewarding them for detaining hostages, incentivizing the kidnapping of future Americas, and possibly funding more terror.” Kirk added: “The ‘experts’ in DC couldn't negotiate a good deal at a yard sale, let alone with America's sworn enemies.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
    • Right-wing social media personality Amuse accused Biden of “TREASON” and wrote: “Biden is signaling to our enemies that Americans are fair game for kidnapping.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
  • Right-wing media inanely attacked Biden for notifying Congress about progress on the deal on the anniversary of 9/11

    • HotAir: “Tone-deaf Biden administration announces prisoner swap with Iran at the low, low price of $6B on 9/11.” [HotAir, 9/12/23]
    • Wash. Examiner: Iran prisoner release is part of “Biden’s terrible, very bad 9/11.” [Washington Examiner, 9/12/23]
    • Breitbart: “President Joe Biden Bows to Iran on 9/11: Pays $6 Billion for Five Prisoners.” [Breitbart, 9/11/23]
    • Right-wing radio host Erick Erickson: “He gave Iran, which helped the 9/11 terrorists, $6 billion. He did all that on the 22nd anniversary of September 11th. F.J.B.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
    • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “OUTRAGE! On 9/11 of all days, Biden administration gives Iran's terrorist regime ‘waiver’ to get $6 billion in funds in exchange for release of 5 US prisoners held hostage by the terror regime.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]