“My husband served this country tirelessly for decades. He deserves better from all of us and from our government. He deserves our endless pursuit to bring him home, to fight day and night and leave no stone unturned.”
“We share our deepest sympathy with his family which has suffered from his absence for over a decade. We will not rest until the Levinson family is whole again. Iran committed to cooperating with the United States to assist us in bringing Robert Levinson home and we call on Iran to fulfill this commitment.”
Heather Nauert — State Department Press Secretary (March 9 2018)
“The Iranians responded with a startling offer. In return for Tehran’s assistance in recovering Levinson, they wanted Washington to reveal the location of Ali Reza Asgari, an Iranian general who vanished in Turkey in 2007, just one month before Levinson’s disappearance.”
YEGANEH TORBATI and JOEL SCHECTMAN — America’s unending hostage crisis with Iran — Reuters (August 1 2018)
March 9 2020 — Today marks the thirteen-year anniversary of Robert Levinson’s disappearance from Kish Island, Iran. The FBI has offered a $5 million reward for any information that could lead to his safe return. On November 4 2019, the Trump administration announced a major increase in reward money ($20 million) for information on the whereabouts of Robert Levinson. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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UPDATE (March 25 2020) — Levinson’s family has received news from US officials that Robert Levinson died in Iranian custody.
They do not know how or when he died, only that his death preceded the coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged the country.
Statement from the Levinson Family — March 25, 2020
Today, with aching hearts, we are sharing devastating news about Robert Levinson, the head of our family.
We recently received information from U.S. 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.
It is impossible to describe our pain. Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man we have ever known, a new reality that is inconceivable to us. His grandchildren will never meet him. They will only know him through the stories we tell them.
If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today. It has been 13 years waiting for answers. 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.
Bob Levinson should have spent his last moments surrounded by his family and all the love we feel for him. Instead, he died alone, in captivity thousands of miles away, in unbelievable suffering. His body has not yet been returned to us for a proper burial. We don’t even know when, or even if, his body would be returned to us. This is the very definition of cruelty.
Those who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, including those in the U.S. government who for many years repeatedly left him behind, will ultimately receive justice for what they have done. We will spend the rest of our lives making sure of this, and the Iranian regime must know we will not be going away. 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.
To you – the thousands of people who knew and loved Bob Levinson or who have supported our family during this terrible ordeal – we know you mourn with us. We can never thank you enough for your love, and for always being there in ways big and small. Because of COVID-19, we will be holding a memorial service in the future when it is safe to do so. We will let you know when and where.
We extend our deep appreciation to President Trump and the members of his Administration – National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, C.I.A. 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.
To the men and women of the FBI, active and retired, who did their best to bring our husband and father home – we know you, also, are mourning with us. Finding Bob Levinson was a personal mission for hundreds of agents and others who worked on this case over the years. We cannot even begin to describe our gratitude. He will always be one of the FBI’s own.
Bob Levinson was a truly remarkable individual – the best husband, father, brother, grandfather and friend anyone could ever ask for. He was an 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.
Christine, Susan, Stephanie, Sarah, Daniel, David, Samantha, and Douglas, and the entire extended Levinson family
President Donald Trump: “I won’t accept that he’s dead.”
US President Donald Trump briefly commented on the case.
“It is not looking great, but I won’t accept that he is dead. They have not yet told us that he is dead. But a lot people are thinking that this is the case.”
It is not entirely clear who Trump meant by “They”.
END of UPDATE
We know that Levinson was on a mission for CIA analysts who had no authority to run spy operations.
Levinson’s family has received a $2.5 million annuity from the CIA in order to stop a lawsuit revealing details of his work.
Following an investigation, the CIA has forced out three veteran analysts and disciplined seven others.
On November 4 2019, the Trump administration announced a major increase in reward money for information on the whereabouts of Robert Levinson.
The State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program is now offering $20 million for information leading to the location, recovery and return of Robert Levinson.
Earlier this year marked the 12th anniversary of the abduction of Robert A. “Bob” Levinson from Kish Island, Iran.
Bob Levinson was abducted on March 9, 2007 and is the longest-held hostage in U.S. history.
Today, the Department of State Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program announced a reward of up to $20 million for information leading to the safe location, recovery, and return of Bob Levinson. More information about this reward is located on the RFJ website.
Bob served his country for 28 years, including 22 years as an FBI special agent.
The FBI stands by its commitment to investigate Bob’s abduction and bring him home.
The FBI renews its repeated calls on the Iranian government to uphold its prior commitments to assist in reuniting Mr. Levinson with his family.
In addition to the Department of State Rewards for Justice reward, an FBI reward of $5 million remains unclaimed. [FBI Washington]
On November 10 2019, President Trump brought up Levinson’s case on Twitter.
“If Iran is able to turn over to the U.S. kidnapped former FBI Agent Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for 12 years, it would be a very positive step,” Trump said.
Trump appears to have been misinformed or disinformed. Like Levinson’s relatives, Trump seems to believe that Iran has acknowledged that Levinson has a ongoing judicial or criminal case in an Islamic Republic of Iran court.
But this is not correct. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi made it clear that the open Revolutionary Court case involving Levinson is a “missing person” filing, not a sign that the man is being prosecuted.
Firstly, it is very likely that Levinson is no longer alive. Most members of the US IC think so but do not speak out.
Secondly, it is far from obvious that the Iranian government is responsible for Levinson’s disappearance.
Thirdly, I would nevertheless encourage people to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Iranian General Ali-Reza Asgari who vanished on February 7 2007, while visiting Istanbul, Turkey after flying in from Damascus, Syria.
There is RUMINT that he had been in Syria to discuss production of military equipment, and his trip to Turkey was to meet with a European arms dealer.
RELATED POST: Biography — Jacques Monsieur [Belgian Arms Dealer]
FBI Statement on 12th Anniversary of the Abduction of Robert A. Levinson
March 9, 2019 marks the 12th anniversary of the abduction of Robert A. “Bob” Levinson from Kish Island, Iran. This milestone is an opportunity for the leadership of the government of Iran to demonstrate its commitment to basic freedoms and civil rights and return Mr. Levinson home to his family.
During the past 12 years, the only credible evidence of responsibility in Mr. Levinson’s abduction has pointed to those working for the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In recent years, representatives of the government of Iran and the United States agreed to cooperate in sharing information which would lead to Mr. Levinson’s return. The FBI renews its repeated calls on the Iranian government to uphold its prior commitments to assist in reuniting Mr. Levinson with his family.
Mr. Levinson, who will turn 71 on March 10, served his country for 28 years, including 22 years as an FBI special agent.
“Bob is and always will be a member of the FBI family, and we share in the heartache that Bob’s wife and family have experienced every day for the last 12 years,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI’s dedicated agents, analysts and professional staff, along with our interagency partners, remain committed to bring Bob home, and we continue to call on the government of Iran to provide assistance.”
A $5 million reward for information that could lead to Bob Levinson’s safe return remains unclaimed. For more information, to include photographs and reward information, please visit fbi.gov/levinson.
1970s – Levinson is hired by the FBI after six years with the Drug Enforcement Agency.
1998 – Levinson retires from the FBI.
1998-2007 – Levinson works as a private investigator.
2006 – Levinson is hired as a contractor by Tim Sampson, head of the Illicit Finance Group within the Office of Transnational Issues at the CIA, to write reports for the agency. The contract is for approximately $85,000. Three CIA employees, including Sampson, later lose their jobs for overstepping their authority as analysts and withholding information about Levinson after he disappeared.
March 8-9, 2007 – According to State Department officials, Levinson travels to Kish Island in Iran and checks into a hotel. Reportedly, Levinson is in the Mideast to investigate cigarette smuggling on behalf of a client. During the visit, he meets with American fugitive Dawud Salahuddin, who is the last person to acknowledge seeing him on March 9.
June 1, 2007 – President George W. Bush says he is “disturbed” by Iran’s refusal to provide any information on Levinson. “I call on Iran’s leaders to tell us what they know about his whereabouts.”
December 2007 – Levinson’s wife, Christine, meets with government officials in Iran, but does not learn anything about her husband’s disappearance.
2008 – The CIA pays the Levinson family more than $2 million to head off a lawsuit, according to family attorney David McGee.
January 13, 2009 – During the nomination hearings of future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida says, “Senator Clinton, you’ve already been briefed on this, but one of the things that you’re going to face is there is an American that is missing in Iran… I have gone to the Iranian Ambassador at the United Nations, who will see me even though his government will not allow him to talk to our UN Ambassador. He operates under the fiction that he will see me because I’m a representative of the people of the state of Florida. But the door has been closed at every turn. What I have said to him, and I speak through the lens of this Committee hearing, that out of human compassion this is a great opportunity for the country of Iran to crack the door, because we think he is being held by the Government of Iran in a secret prison in Iran. And if we want to have some renewed relations, this is a good first opportunity.”
March 3, 2011 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that evidence is growing that Levinson is alive and being held somewhere in southwest Asia.
December 2011 – The Levinson family publicly releases a “proof of life” video they received in November 2010. In the video, Levinson says, “I have been treated well, but I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me for three-and-a-half years. And please help me get home. Thirty-three years of service to the United States deserves something. Please help me.”
March 6, 2012 – The FBI offers a $1 million reward for information leading to his safe return.
September 2012 – Christine Levinson attempts to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He does not meet with her but tells CNN, “They told me (Levinson) was in Iran, and of course the question came up in my mind, what was an American intelligence officer doing in Iran…an individual is lost, how are we supposed to find him among 7 billion people spread across the globe? What we can do is assist, help and cooperate, which we have been doing, and we are doing… as a humanitarian gesture and action.”
January 2013 – The Levinson family releases a series of photographs they received in April 2011. In the photos, a bearded, shackled Levinson, wearing an orange jumpsuit, holds signs written in broken English.
September 2013 – CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviews Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. When asked about Levinson, Rouhani says, “First, you mentioned a person that I’ve never heard of. Mr. Levinson, we don’t know where he is, who he is. Sometimes you are speaking of people who come before a court of trial and other times, there are people who disappear. It’s not a clear question to put these two categories side by side. He is an American who has disappeared. We have no news of him. We do not know where he is. We are willing to help and all the intelligence services in the region can come together to gather information about him to find his whereabouts. And we’re willing to cooperate on that.”
September 27, 2013 – US President Barack Obama speaks by phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. One of the topics discussed is Levinson.
December 12, 2013 – The Associated Press and The Washington Post report that Levinson was working for the CIA when he disappeared in 2007, possibly investigating corruption among Iranian officials. The AP says it first learned of Levinson’s CIA ties in 2010 but delayed publishing the information at the government’s request. The next day the New York Times reports it has known of Levinson’s CIA work since 2007 but also delayed publishing the information to avoid jeopardizing his safety.
December 13, 2013 – White House Spokesman Jay Carney says Levinson “was not a US government employee when he went missing in Iran.”
December 15, 2013 – US Secretary of State John Kerry says, “Well, there hasn’t been progress in the sense that we don’t have him (Levinson) back. But to suggest that we’ve abandoned him or anybody has abandoned him is simply incorrect and not helpful. The fact is that I have personally raised the issue, not only at the highest level that I have been involved with, but also through other intermediaries.”
December 2013 – Dawud Salahuddin, the last person to acknowledge seeing Levinson, tells the Christian Science Monitor that both he and Levinson were detained by Iranian police on March 9, 2007. “They took me away, and when I left – we were down in the lobby – Levinson was surrounded by four Iranian police.”
January 21, 2014 – In an interview with CNN, Levinson’s family discloses that they have known for some time that he was working for the CIA. They accuse the US government of failing to do enough to find Levinson.
January 22, 2014 – Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif tells CNN’s Jim Sciutto, “I have not seen anything that could prove that he (Levinson) was ever in Iran. In fact, we have seen evidence … he was last seen alive outside Iran, with pictures showing that he was outside Iran when he was last seen. It’s a very unfortunate case. We’ve said clearly that we have no knowledge of his whereabouts… We need the United States to explain for Iran what a CIA operative was doing, if he was ever in Iranian territory, what was he doing in Iranian territory.”
March 9, 2015 – The FBI increases the reward for information on Levinson to $5 million.
January 20 2016 – FBI investigators believe Robert Levinson, if he is still alive, is being held in Iran despite public statements from US officials in other agencies indicating he may be elsewhere, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. Three days earlier, on January 17, Iran had released four Americans in a prisoner swap, but not Levinson. After the swap, President Obama says that Iran has agreed to “deepen our coordination” in trying to locate the still-missing American.
February 11, 2016 – The Senate passes a resolution recognizing that Levinson is the longest held US civilian in US history and urging Iran to “act on its promises to assist in” his case.
July 11, 2017 — A delegation of lawmakers — led by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. — penned a letter to Trump, calling on the administration to “re-engage” with Iran over Levinson
July 23 2017 — The FBI has issued an Official Statement in response to reporting on Robert Levinson. The following statement is in response to the Associated Press article dated July 20, 2017, citing an anonymous U.S. official who stated “many U.S. government officials believe [Robert] Levinson is no longer alive.” This characterization is not accurate and diminishes the U.S. government’s resolve to safely return Robert (Bob) Levinson home to his family.
March 9 2018 — The FBI and the State Department reaffirm that the United States “remains unwavering in our commitment to bring him home.”
March 9 2019 — FBI Statement on 12th Anniversary of the Abduction of Robert A. Levinson
November 4 2019 — The Trump administration announced a major increase in reward money for information on the whereabouts of Robert Levinson
March 25 2020 — Levinson’s family has received news from US officials that Robert Levinson died in Iranian custody.
Robert Levinson’s wife admits he was working for CIA
The wife of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared seven years ago in Iran, is revealing new details about his work that she hopes will bring him home.
Brian Ross Investigates — Missing Former FBI Agent Robert Levinson
Nov. 15 2019 — New developments in the case of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, kidnapped in Iran 12 years ago. His family says there is new reason to hope he may yet come home alive.
The Levinson family praised the increased reward saying it showed the Trump administration’s “commitment” to the mission to bring him home.
The Levinson family has asked anyone who may know where he is or have information that will bring him back to the U.S. to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert A. Levinson — FBI Statement on Anniversary of His Disappearance [March 9 2007]
Robert A. Levinson — FBI Statement on Anniversary of His Disappearance [UPDATE : Rewards Upped to $25M]
Robert A. Levinson — FBI Statement on Anniversary of His Disappearance [UPDATE : Quick note on Levinson’s Court case]
On This Day — Former FBI Robert A. Levinson Vanishes in Iran (March 9 2007)
On This Day — Former FBI Robert A. Levinson Vanishes in Iran (March 9 2007) [UPDATE : Statement from the Levinson Family – March 25, 2020]