Former FBI agent Robert Levinson dies in Iranian jail, according to family


March 26, 2020 19:41:28

The family of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared 13 years ago after travelling to an island controlled by Iran, says they believe he died in custody.

Key points:

  • US President Donald Trump described Mr Levinson as “outstanding” and “a gentleman”
  • The Iranian Government has never publicly acknowledged any role in his abduction
  • Mr Levinson’s family has no information about when or how he died

Mr Levinson, the longest-held hostage in US history, disappeared in 2007 on the Iranian island of Kish.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement: “While the investigation is ongoing, we believe that Mr Levinson may have passed away some time ago.”

Mr Levinson’s family said in a post on Facebook and a website: “Today with aching hearts, we are sharing devastating news about Robert Levinson, the head of our family.”

“We recently received information from US officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.”

“We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The family said they did not know when, or even if, Mr Levinson’s body would be returned to them, calling it “the very definition of cruelty”.

Trump ‘won’t accept’ Levinson is dead

US President Donald Trump called Mr Levinson “a gentleman” and “outstanding”.

“It’s not looking good, he wasn’t well for years anyway, in Iran,” Mr Trump said.

“It’s not looking promising … we feel terribly for the family.

“It’s not looking great, but I won’t accept that he is dead.

“They haven’t told us that he’s dead, but a lot of people are thinking that that’s the case.”

Mr Levinson disappeared after flying from Dubai to Kish Island in the Gulf in March 2007.

There he met with Daoud Salahuddin, an American Islamic militant who fled to Iran while facing charges in the murder of an Iranian embassy official based in Washington.

Mr Levinson was working as a private investigator and was seeking information on alleged corruption involving former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family, sources familiar with his work said.

Months after he disappeared, US Government sources acknowledged that before travelling to Kish Island, Mr Levinson had maintained an unorthodox contractual relationship with the analytical branch of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

A handful of CIA officials were forced out of the agency and several more were disciplined after an internal agency investigation.

The Iranian Government has never publicly acknowledged any role in Mr Levinson’s abduction.

But at the time of his disappearance, a government-affiliated media outlet broadcast a story saying he was “in the hands of Iranian security forces”.

Some US investigators, at least until recently, believed Mr Levinson was still alive, while officials at other US agencies believe he died some time, perhaps years, ago.










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