The Obama administration is being accused of stalling a congressional investigation into a purported $1.7 billion taxpayer-funded “ransom payment” to Iran in exchange for the release of several U.S. prisoners, according to documents and information provided to the Washington Free Beacon by sources familiar with the matter.

The administration initially came under fire from congressional critics in January, when it was announced that the United States had settled a longstanding legal dispute with Iran over the breakdown in a decades-old arms sale.

Under the terms of the settlement, Iran was to be paid a $400 million balance and an additional $1.3 billion in interest from a taxpayer fund maintained by the Treasury Department, a State Department official confirmed to the Free Beacon in January.

The settlement was reached outside of the recently implemented nuclear deal and is separate from the $150 billion in unfrozen cash assets the United States is obligated to give to Iran under that agreement, the official said.

The $1.7 billion payment was announced just prior to the release of five U.S. prisoners who had been held in Iran, leading to accusations that the deal is tantamount to a ransom payment. Iranian officials, at the time, independently described the transaction as a form of ransom.

While the Obama administration immediately denied that the two issues were linked, lawmakers remained skeptical and pushed for more answers.

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