Former FBI agent Robert Levinson has died in Iranian custody, says family

Elias Hubbard
March 26, 2020

U.S. officials believe Robert Levinson, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared in Iran, has died, his family said Wednesday.

Robert Levinson has died in Iranian custody, his family has announced.

But Levinson's family said that it had learned that he was dead, although it gave no information on how or when.

The statement said USA officials agreed with the family's conclusion, adding: "We don't know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic".

"His body has not yet been returned to us for a proper burial", the family noted. "This is the very definition of cruelty".

Relatives said they did not know how or when he died, "only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic".

Levinson was the longest-held hostage in USA history, and his family had fought for over a decade for his safe return, blaming the Iranian regime for his capture and imprisonment.

Levinson vanished in 2007 after being apprehended on Iran's Kish Island while conducting a secret mission for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Levinson's family thanked Donald Trump and his administration for doing all they could "to make our family whole again" but they blamed other, unnamed U.S. officials for their lack of action.

"Those who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, including those in the USA government who for many years repeatedly left him behind, will ultimately receive justice for what they have done. Thirteen years since we last saw him or had any contact with him", Levinson's family wrote in a Facebook post. "Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most fantastic man we have ever known, a new reality that is inconceivable to us".

The FBI Agents Association, which represents more than 14,000 active and former agents, said it would "not forget Bob and will support all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this horrific crime". They were sent three emails from his captors, who didn't identify themselves and demanded millions of dollars and the release of several prisoners in exchange for Levinson's release.

The family received a video in late 2010 and proof-of-life photographs in 2011 in which he appeared disheveled with a long beard and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit like those given to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

He was the longest-held hostage in USA history.

The government's acknowledgment of Levinson's death came hours after a White House briefing in which President Donald Trump appeared to equivocate on the news, saying, "I won't accept that he's dead".

"He will never be forgotten - we will make sure of it", they vowed.

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.

Iran released four United States citizens of Iranian descent in 2016 when it concluded a nuclear deal with Obama, but relations have sharply deteriorated under Trump, who withdrew from the accord and implemented sweeping sanctions.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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