By Allan Lengel
This past Wednesday marked the ninth anniversary of the disappearance of ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished after going to Iran. In hopes of keeping the issue at the forefront, the White House, State Department, FBI and family issued statements this week.
“Bob’s wife, children, and grandchildren have waited nine long years for the release of their loved one. Nine years is an incomprehensible amount of time for him to be missing without any word of his whereabouts,” FBI Director James B. Comey said in a statement. “The FBI family feels personally connected to ensuring Bob’s safe return and we are doing everything in our power to investigate all leads.”
In 2013, the Levinson family acknowledged he was actually working as a freelance “spy” for a rogue CIA operation. The Iranian press initially reported after his disappearance that he was being held by Iranian authorities, but since then, the Iranian government has denied even knowing his whereabouts. Some are skeptical of that, and some have wondered whether he’s still alive.
Still, the FBI has been operating under the assumption that he is still alive.
Levinson’s wife, Christine, issued a statement:
A few days ago, hundreds of people from around the country came together with our family in Florida to demand “Where is Bob Levinson?” and ask how it is possible that, 9 years after being taken hostage in Iran, this wonderful man is still not home. My children and I ask those same questions every day.
These past 9 years – 3, 288 days – have been harder for our family than anyone could ever imagine. But, as difficult as it has been for us, we know that Bob is living a nightmare that is 100 times worse. We need the United States government and the country of Iran to work together to resolve what happened to Bob and return him safely to his family.
The White House said:
“Today marks the ninth year since retired FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared during a trip to Kish Island, Iran. We continue to call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to provide assistance in his case, as agreed to as part of the prisoner exchange finalized earlier this year, so that we can bring Mr. Levinson home.
“Finding Mr. Levinson remains a top priority for the United States, and we continue to spare no effort to bring him home. Today the United States renews its unrelenting commitment to securing Mr. Levinson’s return. Our hearts remain with the Levinson family. They have endured the pain and suffering of his disappearance for far too long.”
And Secretary of State John Kerry said:
On the anniversary today of Robert Levinson’s disappearance from Kish Island, Iran, nine years ago, I want to underscore our commitment to locate Bob and bring him home.
For almost a decade, a beloved husband, brother, father, and grandfather has been kept from celebrating family milestones most take for granted. No one should have to endure what Mr. Levinson and his family have endured for so long.
As the President has said, and as I have told the Levinson family when I have met with them, we will never forget Bob, and we will not rest until the Levinson family is whole again.
The U.S. government in its entirety will continue all efforts to locate Bob and bring him home. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has committed to cooperating with the United States to determine the whereabouts of Mr. Levinson, and we are holding Iran to its promise.
In March 2015, the FBI also announced a $5 million reward for any information that could lead to his safe return. We call on anyone with information about this case to contact the FBI at http://tips.fbi.gov or email the FBI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information will be kept confidential and can be provided anonymously.