Iran acknowledges open case into vanished former FBI agent

Twelve years ago, former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared during an unauthorized CIA mission to Iran.

Tehran has always denied any knowledge of his disappearance but now, for the first time, it’s acknowledging that a case regarding Robert Levinson has been ongoing before its Revolutionary Court.

The United States is offering a $US 25 million reward for information about the longest-held hostage in US history.

Guest: Christine Levinson, wife of former FBI agent Robert Levinson

Producer: Linda LoPresti

UN group says Iran has an ‘on going case’ in court regarding missing American Robert Levinson

Updated 9:40 PM ET, Fri November 8, 2019

(CNN) A United Nations working group says Iran’s Justice Department has acknowledged that there is “an on going case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran” for former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

The claim was made by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and was provided to the Levinson family. Levinson’s family had asked the UN working group to investigate Levinson’s 2007 disappearance in Iran.
“The Government reported that: According to the last statement of Tehran’s Justice Department, Mr. Robert Alan Levinson has an on going case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran,” the group said, according to a joint statement from Levinson’s family that was provided to CNN.
Levinson’s family is hoping the report constitutes the first acknowledgment from the Iranians that Levinson is in the Islamic Republic. Iranian officials have previously refused to say that he was ever in Iran, claiming there was no proof. Levinson became the longest-held US citizen in US history in February 2016.
The claim comes just days after the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program advertised up to $20 million for information leading to Levinson’s safe location, recovery and return.
According to State Department officials, Levinson traveled to Kish Island in Iran in March 2007. He was in the Middle East to investigate cigarette smuggling on behalf of a client and, during the visit, met with American fugitive Dawud Salahuddin, who remains the last person to acknowledge seeing Levinson on the day of his disappearance.
Levinson worked as an FBI agent from the 1970s until retiring in 1998, when he came a private investigator. He was a contractor for the CIA at the time of his disappearance.
Salahuddin told Time magazine that Iranian security officials had detained the two, but — while Salahuddin was released the following day — Levinson has not been seen since.
The statement from the Levinson family said Iran has notified their Iranian lawyer and the United Nations that there is indeed an open case in its courts regarding Levinson, but charges remain unclear.
“Iran has told our Iranian lawyer and the UN that it has an open case in its Judiciary about our husband and father. We want to know, what are the charges?” the family said in the statement. “If there are charges — something we have never heard — he has served more than 12-and-a-half years and paid whatever penalty. This is also confirmation of what an Iranian government media outlet — Press TV Iran — first reported in April 2007; that Bob Levinson was picked up by local security forces. It is time for Iran to end this charade and send him home.”
Until this point, the Iranians have not ever acknowledged that Levinson was in their country, let alone in custody.
In 2010, then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told 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.”
In 2013, Ahmadinejad’s successor — Hassan Rouhani — also denied Levinson was in the country, saying, “We have no news of him. We do not know where he is.”
In 2014, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN’s Jim Sciutto that there was no proof that Levinson was ever in Iran.
“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,” Zarif said at the time. “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.”
In July 2018, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry repeated the claim that Levinson had left Iran and had no information, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
CNN has reached out to the Iranian mission at the United Nations and the US State Department. The FBI declined to comment when reached by CNN.

US Calls on Iran to Discuss Any Prisoner Swap Via Official Channels


…The State Department also announced a new reward of up to $20 million for information leading to the safe return of Levinson. Combined with a $5 million reward already in place from the FBI, it makes up to $25 million available to those who can provide such information.

Sarah Moriarty, daughter of American Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007, speaks to VOA Persian, Nov. 4, 2019.
Sarah Moriarty, daughter of American Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007, speaks to VOA Persian, Nov. 4, 2019.

In a Monday interview with VOA Persian, Levinson’s daughter Sarah Moriarty said her brother Doug attended the meeting with Pompeo earlier in the day. She said the Levinson family was honored to be at the gathering and commended the bravery of the American diplomats who were held hostage.

“We also would like to remind people that our father has been held ten times longer than those individuals,” she said.

$20 Million Reward

Disappearance of Robert A. Levinson

Kish Island, Iran | March 9, 2007

Rewards for Justice is offering a reward of up to $20,000,000 for information leading to the safe location, recovery, and return of Robert A. Levinson. Information is being sought regarding Bob Levinson, a retired FBI Special Agent, who went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran on March 9, 2007. Levinson retired from the FBI in 1998 and worked as a private investigator following his retirement. Since Levinson’s disappearance, his whereabouts, well-being, and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance have been unknown.

Rewards for Justice is offering a reward of up to $20,000,000 for information leading to the safe location, recovery, and return of Robert A. Levinson. Absolute confidentiality is assured and relocation may be available. If you have information, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, the FBI, or email [email protected].


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.
Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent, went missing from Kish Island, Iran on March 8, 2007.

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