U.S. Officials Report Death of Robert Levinson, Former FBI Agent Kidnapped by Iran

Robert Levinson
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The family of Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 and has been held illegally by the regime since then despite numerous pleas for his release, said on Wednesday that U.S. officials believe he “died while in Iranian custody,” sometime prior to the deadly outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus in Iran.

“It is impossible to describe our pain,” the Levinson family said. They went on to condemn the “cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime” as well as “those in the U.S. government who for many years repeatedly left him behind.”

“It has been 13 years waiting for answers,” they wrote. “Thirteen years since we last saw him or had any contact with him. How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands.”

“His body has not yet been returned to us for a proper burial,” the family noted. “We don’t even know when, or even if, his body would be returned to us. This is the very definition of cruelty.”

The Levinson family vowed to seek justice against both the Iranian regime and American officials who spared any effort to bring him home.

“We expect American officials, as well as officials around the world, to continue to press Iran to seek Bob’s return, and to ensure those Iranian officials involved are held accountable,” they said.

The Levinson family pointedly excluded President Donald Trump and key members of his administration from their wrath, as well as members of Congress who worked hard to secure Robert Levinson’s release:

We extend our deep appreciation to President Trump and the members of his Administration – National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray – and their staff, who have done all they could to make our family whole again. We are so grateful for their efforts.

Our family also wishes to thank Congressman Ted Deutch, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Bob Menendez, and their staff members, who fought for Bob Levinson in every possible way.

The family additionally saluted the “men and women of the FBI, active and retired, who did their best to bring our husband and father home,” acknowledging that his rescue was “a personal mission for hundreds of agents and others who worked on this case over the years.”

“Bob Levinson was a truly remarkable individual – the best husband, father, brother, grandfather, and friend anyone could ever ask for,” his family mourned. “He was a true American hero – a true patriot, and his compassion and kindness knew no bounds. We will miss his warmth, humor, and wisdom, but most of all, we will miss the deep and unconditional love he had for each one of us.”

“He will never be forgotten – we will make sure of it,” they vowed.

The State Department raised the reward for information leading to the recovery of Robert Levinson to $20 million in November 2019. He was 58 years old at the time of his disappearance in 2007, a veteran of both the FBI and DEA who was working on Iran’s Kish Island as a private investigator. According to sources who spoke to the media about his case many years later, he was also working on an unauthorized mission for the CIA. 

His family only received solid information about him twice after he was abducted: a “hostage video” clip sent to them in 2010 and some photographs sent in 2011. The Iranian government continually denied it had anything to do with his disappearance and claimed not to know his whereabouts, denials that were rejected by both the U.S. government and the Levinson family.

The Levinson family said they felt “betrayed” by the Obama administration when it did not secure his release in exchange for the infamous “pallets of cash” sent to Tehran as part of the nuclear deal. When the Iranian regime began releasing prisoners. They expressed hope that the Trump administration could do better. 

There were flickers of optimism he might be released, or at least allowed to speak to the outside world, when the Iranian regime began the mass release of prisoners to slow the spread of the Wuhan virus through its notorious prisons. Evidently the U.S. officials who told Levinson’s family of his death were not certain exactly how he died, but they had reason to believe it happened before the virus outbreak.


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