Iran denied on Saturday that it knows the whereabouts of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who U.S. authorities have long presumed had been captured there.
But Tehran also asked the U.S. government for more information on Levinson’s mission in Iranian territory, after an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that he had been on an unauthorized assignment for the CIA when he vanished on Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007.
In a statement to AP, Iranian press counselor at the United Nations, Alireza Miryusefi, said “the American authority should explain about Levinson’s mission in Iranian soil. They are responsible and should respond.”
Miryusefi insisted that the government in Iran has been cooperating with attempts to locate Levinson.
The Iranian government has been trying “to find any clue about Levinson’s situation for humanitarian and security reasons, but no success,” he said, according to AP.
“We also provided all possible assistance to his family. Unfortunately this case is another America’s type scandal,” Miryusefi said.
The State Department and Levinson’s family have denied he was working for the U.S. government ever since he disappeared on the trip to Iran.
Speaking to reporters, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday that there is an investigation into the disappearance, but he wouldn’t comment further on what Levinson “may or may not have been doing in Iran.”
“I am not going to fact check every allegation made in the story you referenced, a story we believe it was highly irresponsible to publish and which we strongly urged the outlet not to publish out of concerns for Mr. Levinson’s safety,” he said.
“If there’s somebody detained overseas and it’s published, true or false, that he is working for the CIA, I think it is dictated by logic that that very likely puts that person in greater danger. What I can tell you is he wasn’t a U.S. government employee when he made that trip.
Levinson’s family attorney, David McGee, told CNN that records he found show “without a shadow of a doubt” that Levinson was indeed a contract employee of the CIA on a rogue assignment in Iran for the agency when he disappeared.
McGee discovered emails in which Levinson tells a friend at the CIA he was working to develop a source with access to the Iranian regime.
The officials said a 2010 video of Levinson considered proof of life posed more questions than answers because it was sent from a cybercafé in Pakistan and had Pashtun music in the background.
The last photos and video of a bearded, emaciated Levinson were released anonymously to his family in 2010 and early 2011, and investigators say his trail has grown cold since.