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Republican primary front-runner Donald TrumpDonald Trump Jeb Bush: Trump a ‘distraction in and of himself’ Protests erupt across Russia, hundreds arrested: reports Ill. gov candidate runs as fresh face, despite ties to political machine MORE on Saturday said his rhetoric condemning the Iranian regime played an integral part in securing the release of four U.S. prisoners.
“So I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might have had something to do with it,” Trump said at the South Carolina Tea Party Convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“You want to know the truth, who’s using it? It’s a part of my staple thing. I mean, I go crazy when I hear about this,” he added.
“They’re in one of the worst prisons in the world, and we had to do something, so I’d always talk about it.”
Iran on Saturday released four U.S. citizens, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, 39, who had been incarcerated for the last 18 months.
The release came as part of a prisoner swap, in which the U.S. freed seven Iranian-Americans who were being held on sanctions-related charges.
The U.S. also agreed to drop international charges against 14 other Iranians suspected of sanctions violations.
The billionaire businessman said he did not think the prisoner exchange was a fair trade, citing the billions of dollars in frozen assets Iran will receive from the nuclear agreement.
“They’re getting seven people that they’ve wanted, much more serious, real people – real people meaning they’ve committed real problems – and they’re getting I guess 14 or 15 other people that are on the watch list – these are really bad dudes, and they’re being taken off the watch list,” he said.
“We give them $150 billion, we give them essentially 22 people – 21, 22 people – but these are people that really did have problems, and we’re getting back four people who didn’t do anything wrong,” he added.
“That’s the way we negotiate. That’s the way we negotiate. It’s so sad. It’s so sad.”
Trump said the U.S. could have gotten the prisoners released by threatening to levy more stringent sanctions on Iran.
The United Nations on Saturday found Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal and lifted economic sanctions on the nation.