US officials say former FBI agent Robert Levinson has died in Iran’s custody: Family

An FBI poster from 2012 shows a composite image of Levinson (R) of how he would look like in captivity, with an image (C) taken from a video released by his kidnappers, and a photo (L) before he was kidnapped. (AP)

The retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 2007, has died in Iranian custody, his family said on Wednesday.

"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," said a statement from Levinson's family.

The family added that it was unsure when or how he died, but that it was before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” the family said in its statement.

Robert Levinson went missing in Iran since 2007. (AFP)

Robert Levinson went missing in Iran since 2007. (AFP)

Mysterious circumstances

Levinson went missing while on a trip to Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007. The State Department said he was taken hostage with the involvement of the Iranian regime. The Iranian government has never acknowledged arresting him.

The White House had consistently said Levinson was not working for the US government when he disappeared from the island under mysterious circumstances.

In 2016, during President Barack Obama’s administration, senior US officials said they believed Levinson, who suffered from diabetes, died in captivity after meeting with an American-born Islamic militant on Kish Island.

But in January 2019, a State Department spokesman said that was inaccurate and called on Iran to locate Levinson and return him home to his family.

President Donald Trump’s administration had offered in November 2019 a reward of up to $20 million for information about Levinson, in addition to the pre-existing $5 million reward from the FBI.

- With wires

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Last Update: 11:06 KSA 14:06 - GMT 11:06
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