More concessions to Iran: Obama dropped $10 million claim in prisoner deal

ByPamela Geller on January 28, 2016
26 Comments
Obama-Middle-FInger

“Nader Modanlo was facing five more years in federal prison when he got an extraordinary offer: U.S. President Barack Obama was ready to commute his sentence as part of this month’s historic and then still-secret prisoner swap with Iran. He said no. To sweeten the deal, the U.S. administration then dropped a claim against the Iran-born aerospace engineer for $10 million that a Maryland jury found he had taken as an illegal payment from Iran, according to interviews with Modanlo, lawyers involved and U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.”

Obama was ready to commute his sentence, and then sweetened the deal by dropping the monetary claim when he balked. It seems as if there is no concession Obama is not willing to make in order to appease the Iranian mullahs. But they’re not returning the favor.

Nader-Modanlo

“Exclusive: White House dropped $10 million claim in Iran prisoner deal,” by Joel Schectman and Yeganeh Torbati, CBS News, January 27, 2016:

Nader Modanlo was facing five more years in federal prison when he got an extraordinary offer: U.S. President Barack Obama was ready to commute his sentence as part of this month’s historic and then still-secret prisoner swap with Iran. He said no.

To sweeten the deal, the U.S. administration then dropped a claim against the Iran-born aerospace engineer for $10 million that a Maryland jury found he had taken as an illegal payment from Iran, according to interviews with Modanlo, lawyers involved and U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

The surrender of the U.S. claim, which has not previously been reported, could add to scrutiny of how the Obama administration clinched a prisoner deal that has drawn criticism from Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers.

A Washington-based spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on discussions over the $10 million, which the jury found that Modanlo was paid to help Iran launch its first satellite in 2005. Modanlo says the money was a loan from a Swiss company for a telecoms deal.

In the prisoner swap, five Americans held in Iran were released at the same time as seven Iranians charged or imprisoned in the United States were granted pardons or had their sentences commuted. The deal accompanied the Jan. 16 implementation of a landmark agreement that curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Even after receiving the improved offer on Friday, Jan. 15, Modanlo said he didn’t budge at first. He wanted a chance to clear his name in court, he says.

“I was mostly disappointed that I have to give up my right to appeal,” Modanlo, 55, told Reuters in one of his first interviews since being released.

“If they believe in their justice system why would they deprive me of it? Let them prove me wrong.”

As part of their clemency agreements, all of the Iranians had to renounce any claims against the U.S. government. All but one had been accused of violating the economic sanctions the United States has enforced against Iran for decades.

Modanlo’s reluctance to accept Obama’s offer became an eleventh-hour complication to an otherwise carefully staged deal with Iran that had been negotiated in secret for months by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart.

He only agreed to accept the clemency offer on Saturday, Jan. 16 as the clock ticked toward what U.S. officials said was the final deadline, according to Modanlo and U.S. officials.

He was freed the next day from a federal prison near Richmond, Virginia. The release marked an abrupt conclusion to his case after a sprawling, decade-long investigation into Modanlo’s role in brokering Iran’s access to space technology. U.S. federal agents had pursued evidence from the suburbs of Washington to Switzerland and Russia.

Modanlo was serving the longest sentence of any of the seven Iranians and had the most extensive, established connections to Iran’s government.

He was also the only one known to have initially declined Obama’s offer, according to interviews with lawyers for the men.

An official at Iran’s interests section in Washington, Iran’s de facto embassy, testified in Modanlo’s defense at his 2013 trial. The same Iranian representative, Fariborz Jahansoozan, was instrumental in brokering the prisoner exchange in recent months, lawyers for those involved have said.

“This story is done and over with,” Jahansoozan said when reached by Reuters, declining to discuss the case in detail. “Please let it go and move forward.”

After two years in prison, Modanlo says he is finding that hard. “I know this cloud is going to be over my head forever,” he said.

AMERICAN DREAM SOURED

Modanlo grew up in northern Iran, the son of a wealthy landowner. As a child, he remembers watching the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 that put American astronauts on the moon and being inspired to become a space engineer.

Decades later, after moving to the United States and becoming a U.S. citizen, Modanlo had become a space entrepreneur with a company valued at $500 million.

He helped launch an American satellite from a Russian rocket in 1995. His company, Final Analysis, focused on the emerging field of low-orbit satellites for data services.

But a series of missteps drove the company into bankruptcy in 2001, and Modanlo was sued by a former partner, who accused him of selling missile technology to Iran.

Modanlo says U.S. authorities used the missile claim to win assistance from Switzerland in obtaining evidence against him. Raids at Modanlo’s Maryland home and office seized a truck load of documents and 120 computer hard drives but no supporting evidence for that claim, he said.

“They knew this was false. They knew I had no missile technology,” he said.

The ensuing investigation uncovered documents prosecutors say showed Modanlo brokered a deal between Iran and Russia to launch the satellite in exchange for a $10 million fee. A Maryland jury convicted him of sanctions violations after a six-week trial. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

In an appeal, Modanlo’s lawyers argued that private communications between the trial judge and prosecutors had excluded evidence that could have changed the outcome.

Robert King, one of the judges who heard Modanlo’s appeal, admonished prosecutors for that practice in an October hearing.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said the evidence against Modanlo had been disclosed in court and proved “beyond any reasonable doubt that Mr. Modanlo secretly helped Iran launch a satellite for $10 million.”…

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  • Fred Sawyer

    Is OBAMA for real? Does he not recall the 1979 Islamic Revolution? The hostage crisis? There’s a reason the USA has not had ANY diplomatic relations with Iran. There have been 5 US Presidents during that time.

    Maybe Obama should go to Iran for 444 days.

    It makes me sick anyone from Iran is let into this country during the UN general assembly.

    Iran- proud sponsors of terrorism since 1979.

    • Patricia

      “Does he not recall the 1979 Islamic Revolution?”

      Well, hell no! Obama was still smoking weed with the gang, he was only 18 in 1979, when Jimmeh Carter looked like the inept President he was.

      So I seriously doubt if he remembers anything about that nightmare.

      • Fred Sawyer

        Sounds right to me.

      • joe1429

        And according to his own book, smoking crack in college, and doing coke. He got a free pass from the press, and was never properly vetted, as was his tranny wife, michael, which i believe will come out when he leaves office, by his own admission.

  • rambler

    Are we at treason yet?

  • Red

    Obama is a Muslim who has never taken the oath of allegiance (he said he took it in private). He is a traitor to America!

  • Obama is Very Evil

    Pathological liar, the hypocrisy of this shameless hypocrite is nauseating. Not only is this Leftist moron Muslim Brotherhood stooge anti-Israel but anti-American as well.

    • joe1429

      He did what he said he was going to do. Fundamentally transform the us, from a great power.. to world clown!! Isnt done yet, until he lets the last 100 islamic killers in gitmo free, maybe trips to the carribean, like he did with past ones, who are now fighting against us. Than to top it off, he will go against congressional law, and close gitmo, and give our property to the communists!! Will congress wake up and do something??????

  • Impeach Obama Today!

    This story is done and over with says the Obama administration just like the screw-up in Benghazi that cost the navy seals and Ambassador Stevens their lives, according to Hillary was in the past. A good thing there is a movie out now called 13 Hours so the Benghazi nightmare will not be forgotten as Hillary had dreamed it would be. We remember Hillary and Obama.

    All of the cover-ups and screw-ups of the Obama administration are always referred to as in the past.

    In the future can we please impeach Obama!

  • El Cid

    Pamela, did you see Dr. Dion’s statements this week in Canada? He has said that Canada is open for business with Iran. At the same time, he criticized Israel as a barrier to peace.

    The Iranians are in Canadian court fighting a claim against their assets by victims of terrorism. How long can we expect before the new Canadian government will force the court to throw out this case?

    There is no one left to criticize the brutal regime in Iran now that Harper is gone.

  • chris wolf

    Subjugating Western Civilization to islam — that’s his jihad.

  • Millionmileman

    As 0 eases up on the Iranians: One day after Pharaoh speaks platitudes at the Israeli Embassy, on Holocaust Remembrance Day the US now requires Judea-Samaria goods to be labeled!

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/207210

  • Patti York

    Why doesnt he just hand the keys to the WH to Iran?

    • BrunoPBuhr

      Obama did that to get the negotiations started.

  • Mahou Shoujo

    The America diplomatic corps under the incompetent amateur oppression of dhimmi are incapable of dealing with anything more complicated than ordering coffee. Everything they do makes America look weak and stupid in the eyes of the world. Russia and China are laughing.

    • BrunoPBuhr

      They don’t have time to laugh, their militaries are too busy stealing everything in sight. The deal almost fell through. Kerry offered iran Merkel to leaven the arrangement. Unfortunately Obama had already promised her to Isis. Kerry proclaimed it a win win because Isis neglected to demand a full veil! In the end, the only other demand we gave into were the keys to the White House!

      • Mahou Shoujo

        It must have cost the arabs a few billion to buy off as many politicians as are now shoving islam down civilizations throat.

        • BrunoPBuhr

          Cowardice has no currency, fear no soul.

          • Mahou Shoujo

            Politicians can be bought, those not for sale outright, can be rented.

  • itchy

    Look at the picture of him closely. He is flip-n you Americans off

  • Janet

    Just more of Obama’s ass kissing of Iran and Muslims! I’m so sick of it! Worst president ever!

  • Up Huff

    So, he wants to clear his name? Send him back. I’ll be happy to serve on the jury panel.
    But I consider ‘aid and comfort’ to an enemy as treasonous and demands the death penalty.
    Still want to come back you worthless piece of excrement, Modanlo?

  • Jeanne Ballard

    Why has congress not done a thing about this . they keep tiptoeing around this
    man as if he were God Almighty. TRAITOR

  • joe1429

    Besides the billions he bribed Iran to get them out, i heard that another country, possibly sweden paid Iran 10 mil for each us prisoner to get out!!!

  • Blogengeezer

    $10,000,000 for spending a few more years in ‘white collar’ incarceration ambiance… with access to the ‘links’. Not bad. Being young enough or even old, it sounds pretty good. Also Free healthcare as an added bennie, if obamacare applies ‘fairly and equally’.

  • Dan

    I guess once EVERYONE in your own country knows your a pathetic POS, it doesn’t matter how much further you stoop. Nothing this monkey does suprizes me anymore..