In remarks to the families of U.S. citizens detained abroad, Secretary Pompeo indicated that "we know that there are nations that take Americans less because there is less money coming from America. I've seen it; I've seen the information. It's what's happened after we paid the mullahs in Iran". In an interview the following day, Pompeo indicated that "there were fewer Iranians returned than had been committed by the Iranian government" around the time of the JCPOA. Asked for his sense of why Iran had made "hostage-taking part of state policy", Pompeo replied "it's the Islamic nature of the republic... in my judgment. It's the reason they hold Americans. They think there's leverage. They think we'll make concessions to them because they've held Americans. We will not do that". Prompted for a clarification by the interviewer, Pompeo followed up saying "I did mean Islamist". He went on to assert that "we know the people in Iran. They are educated, they are talented, they are hardworking, and they are being subjected to these corrupt ayatollahs and leaders who are using this Islamist activity, this revolutionary activity to empower themselves... much to the detriment of the Iranian people".
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