Video of Dan Levinson’s Testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Thank you to all of you who watched or supported Dan’s testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this morning, and thank you to the committee for the opportunity to tell our father’s and our family’s story.

For those unable to watch earlier, the archive video is already available. If you would like to just watch Dan’s testimony, you can skip to 1:06:38, and there are also a few key answers he made to questions at approximately 1:24 and 1:28.

Thank you so much again for supporting our family as we continue to fight to bring our father, Bob Levinson, home to us.

Reward Increased to $5 Million in Robert Levinson Case

Reward Increased to $5 Million in Robert Levinson Case

Robert Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran, on March 9, 2007.

On March 9, 2007, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran, and today, on the eighth anniversary of his disappearance, the FBI has increased its reward to up to $5 million for information leading directly to his safe location, recovery, and return. Levinson, who will turn 67 tomorrow, is now one of the longest-held American hostages in history.

“Today we mark eight years since Bob disappeared in Iran, and we are increasing the reward for his location and safe return to his family,” said FBI Director James B. Comey. “We ask anyone with information to contact the FBI. It is long past time for Bob to come home.”

Anyone with information regarding Levinson or his captors is encouraged to contact the FBI at Information will be kept confidential and can be provided anonymously.

State Dept. calls on Iran to release American prisoners

Found here:

By Phillip Swarts – The Washington Times – Friday, August 29, 2014

Marking the three-year anniversary of the arrest of a U.S. citizen in Iran, the State Department called upon the Islamic government to release all Americans detained by the nation.

“The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends and loved ones,” the agency said in a press release.

Friday marks the third anniversary since Amir Hekmati was arrested on espionage charges. The U.S. government has stated that the charges are false and that Mr. Hekmati traveled to Iran to visit family.

The agency also called for the release of Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor supposedly arrested due to his religious beliefs; and Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter. Mr. Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, is a writer for a Middle Eastern paper and is also being held.

U.S. official: Obama, Rouhani discussed fate of three Americans

This news makes us extremely hopeful that President Rouhani will help us to find our father and once and for all bring him home.
By Susan Candiotti, CNN National Correspondent
September 28, 2013
(CNN) — The fate of three U.S. citizens who have disappeared or been imprisoned in Iran was discussed during …Friday’s historic conversation between the two nations’ presidents, a senior U.S. administration official said.
U.S. President Barack Obama, during his phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “noted our concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran — Robert Levinson, Saeed Abedini, and Amir Hekmati — and noted our interest in seeing those Americans reunited with their families,” the official said.
Two of the Americans have been tried and convicted in Iranian courts, and the whereabouts of another have been unknown for more than six years.
Here are the most recent developments in the stories of the detained U.S. citizens:
Bob Levinson The family of Levinson, a retired FBI agent, has been anxiously waiting for news, any news, about his fate since he vanished during a business trip to Iran in March 2007.
When Rouhani, Iran’s new president, arrived in New York, Levinson’s wife and children were watching closely for a sign that efforts to find Levinson might move forward.
During an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Rouhani offered little when asked what he can tell Levinson’s family.
“We don’t know where he is, who he is,” Rouhani said. “He is an American who has disappeared. We have no news of him.”
Yet, like former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani spoke of cooperation.
“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,” Rouhani told Amanpour. “And we’re willing to cooperate on that.”
The State Department has said Levinson is believed to be held in southwest Asia.
“We have every reason to believe that he’s alive and that the Iranians control his fate,” a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN, a departure from last year when the same source described Levinson as “alive and well.”
Questions about his health also remain unanswered. Levinson suffers from diabetes.
Levinson’s family said Rouhani’s comments, while not directly acknowledging information about Levinson, “are consistent with the commitments made in the past, and [they hope] those promises turn into results.”
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the State Department said Rouhani’s comments about cooperation were welcome. “We look forward to hearing more specifics on how Iran can help in reuniting Mr. Levinson with his family in the United States as soon as possible.”
Both the State Department and Levinson’s family deny he was working for the government when he disappeared. The family says Levinson was there on private business investigating cigarette smuggling.
In January, the family released so-called “proof of life photos” they received a few years ago. The photos show him with long, unkempt hair and wearing an orange shirt. He is holding signs written in poor English, including one that reads. ” Why you can not help me?”
An FBI task force meets regularly to assess Levinson’s case.
“The FBI remains committed to doing all we can to bring Bob Levinson home safely to his family,” a statement reads.
This summer, the FBI began publishing ads in Farsi publications in Los Angeles and Washington, which have large Iranian-American populations, requesting any information about Levinson, to raise awareness, and advertising a $1 million reward announced by former FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2012.
In November, Levinson will become one of the longest-held Americans in history passing the 2,454 days Terry Anderson spent in captivity before being freed by Islamic militants in Lebanon in 1991.

The FBI Renews The Search For One Of Its Own

Six years ago, Robert Levinson, a retired-FBI-agent-turned-private-investigator, was kidnapped in the Persian Gulf. To this day, no one knows where he is, but his family — and the government — aren’t ready to give up the hunt.

Jacob Fischler, BuzzFeed Staff, posted on June 30, 2013 at 10:30pm EDT


Ryan Moriarty wanted to propose to his girlfriend Sarah for two years but couldn’t. This hesitation wasn’t caused by nerves or fear of commitment; he just wanted to get her father’s approval before he formally bent down on one knee. But this was more complicated than merely mustering up the courage. No one knew where he was.

Sarah’s father is Robert Levinson, the retired FBI agent who was kidnapped off the coast of Iran in 2007 and whose whereabouts remain unknown to this day. After years of frustrating delay, Ryan asked permission from Sarah’s mother and brother. Without hesitation they said yes — as did Sarah. But Levinson remains missing, and the six years since have delivered little in the way of comfort or closure for his family.

Information on Levinson’s disappearance is scarce — barely more than a timeline of events leading up to his capture. He went missing in March 2007; his last known whereabouts were at a resort on Iranian-controlled Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. During a visit to Kish Island a few months after he was kidnapped, Levinson’s wife Christine verified his signature (he has a very distinct signature, according to Sarah) both checking in and checking out of the hotel. He was in Iran as a private investigator, there to look into cigarette smuggling for a client, whom he was presumably meeting at the resort.

Christine has lead the charge in the hunt for Levinson since day one, still based out of her home in Coral Springs, Fla., where she raised her family. Aside from visiting Iran to try to find her husband for herself, she’s gone on television numerous times to plead for help. She grants interviews to almost anyone who will tell her side of the story, from Fox News to Iranian-American websites like, and helps maintain the website and Facebook page dedicated to her husband.

In his three decades working for the U.S. government, including with the FBI, he became an expert on the Russian mob, both in New York and later Miami. His work never apparently tied him to the Middle East or Iran, though a Freedom of Information Act request filed by BuzzFeed for more details into his FBI career was denied because his file is part of the ongoing investigation. It is believed that if still alive — and his family as well as the FBI say they have no reason to believe he is not — he’s likely being held somewhere in Southwest Asia. Everything else is, for the most part, speculation.

But the FBI is ramping up its efforts to try to find him. After shutting down a temporary publicity campaign that went on for about six months starting in March 2012 (which included massive billboards in Afghanistan and New York City that touted a $1 million reward for information leading to Levinson’s rescue), the FBI is once again refocusing its efforts domestically. As far as the FBI will confirm, the decision to restart its outreach for information hasn’t been influenced by any new leads or intelligence, it’s just another attempt to try to retrieve an American captured abroad. As government tactics continue to come up short, the bureau has put its hope in the public to fill in the information gap.

The FBI plans to target the largest Iranian communities in the U.S., specifically those in Southern California and Washington, D.C. The campaign will focus on print ads, written in Farsi, published in Iranian magazines on a rotating basis. FBI spokeswoman Jacqueline Maguire, who’s heading up the effort, said there’s no budget set for the program since they are looking to conduct a more sustained publicity campaign compared with the last one.

A Times Square billboard, 2012. Via

“Any bit of information, no matter how small, may be the piece that allows us to locate Bob and safely bring him back where he belongs,” Maguire told BuzzFeed in an email.

The FBI will also work with the family to increase awareness on social media. Maguire told BuzzFeed the bureau will set up a Facebook page, in addition to the one the family already updates, with all the information they have, including ways for people to contact the FBI to provide any information they may have. There will be a dedicated FBI tip line specifically for this case, similar to what they did with the Benghazi attacks, where anyone can anonymously provide information. The plan is to get the effort going by July 1.

Maguire said that Levinson’s situation is a unique one. The FBI has never lost a former agent abroad and certainly never for this long. To many, more than six years held in captivity held by an anonymous group that’s managed to avoid detection by the U.S. government may seem like a lost cause. Factor in the fact that he’s diabetic and the outlook grows more grim. But with no signals pointing either way, toward his demise or his survival, the FBI said it will continue to pursue any new leads that could lead to his safe return home. They couldn’t confirm whether any tips have come in and ultimately failed to lead anywhere, but the bureau did say any lead will be investigated fully. What can be said for sure is the $1 million reward remains unclaimed.

It’s difficult to move forward with a case like this when so little is known. Who exactly was he meeting? Where was he taken? How? Is he being cared for? Is he alive? But it’s the fact his captors have shown no signs they plan to give him back that is most concerning. The few times his captors have reached out, they made no demands and offered no clues aside from a thinly veiled criticism of Guantanamo Bay. There’s no obvious motive, no suspect, no evidence. Was he taken just because he was an American in the wrong place at the wrong time? There’s no way to know, not yet.

To learn that he’s dead would at least give his family closure. To learn who is holding him and why would give them a new way to approach the situation. But what they have now is worse, the constant anticipation of news. And all that can be done now is to make a widespread plea for help and pray that someone, anyone, answers the call.

Sarah and Ryan live down a series of winding roads in the small New Jersey town of Chester, about an hour and a half from New York City. Inside, Sarah sits in her cavernous, mostly empty living room on a couch that engulfs her petite figure. She speaks softly, only increasing in volume when a strong memory of her father shoots into her mind and, unavoidably, across her lips. Sarah works from home, by choice “mostly because of the personal situation,” in a technology group for a major bank. Six years later and still she doesn’t want to be too far from home, just in case.

Her iPhone goes off from the other side of the room. Sarah looks over but ignores it. “If it starts going crazy that’s when my heart starts to beat in hopes that it’s my dad, hope that something’s happened.” She continues to reminisce, but the phone goes off again. She tries to ignore it this time but can’t. She darts off the couch to look at her phone. She sighs. Nothing.

Since Levinson’s disappearance, he’s missed several family milestones including the birth of a grandchild and two of his daughters’ weddings. “His existence was for his family and for the United States,” Sarah says. Though he never got to meet his daughter Susan’s husband, Levinson had met Ryan Moriarty, Sarah’s husband, on a few occasions, which often included Levinson trying to convince Ryan to follow in his footsteps and join the FBI.

That was the kind of guy Levinson was, a larger-than-life type of personality who took joy simply in interacting with those around him. While at the FBI, he created “Pink Shirt Thursdays” when everyone would come in wearing pink shirts, a legacy his family is trying to continue to keep up awareness of their missing patriarch. He even hosted a field day at the local elementary school all his children attended in Florida. The school named the event after him when he went missing.

His family’s attempts to keep his situation at the forefront of the minds of citizens and governments around the world come as the obvious suspect — the Iranian government, which U.S. intelligence has reportedly linked to Levinson’s disappearance — has flatly denied any knowledge of his plight. Iran actually promised to help uncover details about Levinson’s location on several occasions. The most recent promise came in March, around the sixth anniversary of his capture, when Iran’s foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that Levinson is not in Iran but that they are “ready to cooperate to help clarify how he disappeared.”

One promise made early on was that the Iranian government would provide the family with a report on their investigation, but the family has yet to receive anything from them and now, with new leadership and constant political uncertainty, it’s unclear if they ever will. Even Levinson’s general location still can’t be confirmed, though then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in March 2011 they believed he was in “Southwest Asia” — diplo-speak for Iran.

Amidst unfulfilled promises and constant anticipation of good (and worry of bad) news, the Levinsons have tried to stay connected to him in any way they can. Some read through old emails to try to hear his voice, to remember the advice he’d often give. “I’m very, very proud of what you’ve done so far and know that you’re going to be a big success in whatever it is that you decide to do,” Levinson wrote to his then-college sophomore son David in February 2007, one month before he disappeared. “Just know I love you and I’ll be there for you, whenever you need me.”

Other times they’d call his voicemail to give him updates on their lives. Some called to tell him about a new job or a wedding proposal or a new niece who was born. For a long time they left a lot of messages, though not so much anymore, creating an oral family history that Levinson has never heard.

When Sarah and Ryan finally got married, Sarah carried a bouquet of white roses with a small portrait of her dad attached to the stems. “So I can tell him when he comes home that he walked me down the aisle,” she says. The bouquet is perched atop a dark wooden mantelpiece off to the side of the living room across from a big grandfather clock that chimes every half hour, the photo still attached to the stems. The once vibrant white roses are wilted and brown.

Now Sarah’s pregnant, due in October, and when her baby is born it could be another grandchild that “Grandpa Bob” has never met. Her sister has a granddaughter who has already grown up without ever meeting him, though they are trying to make the transition easy for her once Levinson returns home. They show her pictures of Levinson so she can know who he is when he returns. “She actually says, ‘Grandpa Bob is in the desert riding on a camel,’” Sarah said, laughing to fight back tears.

Levinson’s grandkids, celebrating Pink Shirt Thursday in his honor.

Levinson has only been seen or heard from twice since the day he went missing. The first was in 2011, when a video was sent from an anonymous email account, allegedly based out of Pakistan, featuring a frail looking Levinson pleading with the government to rescue him. Levinson was a big guy, 6 feet 4 inches tall and portly, but the video showed a pale, skinny Levinson with an unkempt beard and bags under his eyes. Sarah says she recognized him mainly because his eyes still had the compassion she’d come to know from her father. “Please help me get home. Thirty-three years of service to the United States deserves something,” he pleaded in the video.

The next instance was also in 2011, though the family didn’t make it public until January of this year. This time Levinson’s captors sent five photos of Levinson dressed as a Guantanamo Bay inmate, complete with chains and an orange jumpsuit. He held signs with messages written in broken English.

“I Am HERE IN GUANTANAMO DO YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS?” one sign read. “HELP ME,” was written plainly on another. The photos were sent from another anonymous email account, also apparently from Pakistan but different from the one used to send the video. Neither email account was used before sending the messages, and neither has been used since.

“It was so hard to see [the photos],” Sarah says. “Even when the news story broke when we shared them publicly, I couldn’t look at them because they’re — I mean, you look but it’s just so hard. It’s hard, but at the same time I see his eyes and I feel connected to him again.”

But the lack of information hasn’t caused the family to lose hope. No news is good news. When talking about him, they consciously use words like “when” and “will” to describe their future with Levinson. Never “if” or “maybe.” The few times Sarah did talk about him in a way she felt wasn’t optimistic enough, she’d correct herself to make her phrasing more certain and defiant.

“Hopefully one of these days we’ll get him home,” she says. Then shaking the thought off, adds, “I know we will. We won’t stop until we get him home.”

The reality of the situation is brutally clear to the Levinsons. They know there are some who have been captured and released, others who weren’t so fortunate — Mary Colvin, Tim Hetherington, and Daniel Pearl among the most recent, well-known citizens killed while working abroad — and still others like Austin Tice, whose fate remains unknown.

Sarah Shourd (held 410 days in Iran) and Terry Anderson (held six years and nine months in Beirut) are among the survivors who have reached out to the Levinson family. Sarah said they offered advice, encouragement, and perspective on what Levinson is likely facing, wherever he may be. Though they tried to reassure the family — “Don’t worry, I survived it,” Anderson told them. “I’ve gotten through it and I’m still here and I’m OK.” — words aren’t always enough.

“Anyone that we’ve talked to, you can tell that they went through so much pain,” Sarah said. “I just can’t. It doesn’t help to think what my father is going through.”

If not recovered by Nov. 26, Levinson will pass Anderson as the longest held hostage in American history.

With all the media and attention the the family has received, they really just want Levinson to come home. And as the government and social media efforts continue to fail to get them any closer to his return, they’ve turned to faith. Sarah, a staunch Catholic, prays to whoever she can in hopes it will bring him back safely: to Saint Joseph, the patron saint of fathers, Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, to Saint Jude — miracles.

She takes a big breath, as if allowing every memory of her father to creep up into her head, and she exhales. “Not a moment goes by without thinking of him,” she said.

Levinson’s daughter Sarah, holding a bouquet with his photo on her wedding day.

Washington Post Opinion–Why Iran seeks constructive engagement

Today marks 2,387 days of missing our father more than words can ever express.
We wanted to share with all of you the opinion piece that was published in the Washington Post yesterday, written by Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani.
President Rouhani begins with, “Three months ago, my platform of “prudence and hope” gained a broad, popular mandate. Iranians embraced my approach to domestic and international affairs because they saw it as long overdue.”
This piece has brought our family much hope. We hope that you will take a few minutes to read it.
Bob Levinson was last seen on Kish Island, Iran on March 9, 2007 and we are confident that Iran has the resources to help bring Bob home to us. We believe that President Rouhani’s message can help open the dialogue to get him home.

Why Iran seeks constructive engagement
By Hassan Rouhani, Published: September 19

Hassan Rouhani is president of Iran.

Three months ago, my platform of “prudence and hope” gained a broad, popular mandate. Iranians embraced my approach to domestic and international affairs because they saw it as long overdue. I’m committed to fulfilling my promises to my people, including my pledge to engage in constructive interaction with the world.

The world has changed. International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.

The international community faces many challenges in this new world — terrorism, extremism, foreign military interference, drug trafficking, cybercrime and cultural encroachment — all within a framework that has emphasized hard power and the use of brute force.

We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.

Sadly, unilateralism often continues to overshadow constructive approaches. Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. More than a decade and two wars after 9/11, al-Qaeda and other militant extremists continue to wreak havoc. Syria, a jewel of civilization, has become the scene of heartbreaking violence, including chemical weapons attacks, which we strongly condemn. In Iraq, 10 years after the American-led invasion, dozens still lose their lives to violence every day. Afghanistan endures similar, endemic bloodshed.

The unilateral approach, which glorifies brute force and breeds violence, is clearly incapable of solving issues we all face, such as terrorism and extremism. I say all because nobody is immune to extremist-fueled violence, even though it might rage thousands of miles away. Americans woke up to this reality 12 years ago.

My approach to foreign policy seeks to resolve these issues by addressing their underlying causes. We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.

At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world. The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program. To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world. Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved.
I am committed to confronting our common challenges via a two-pronged approach.First, we must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates. As part of this, I announce my government’s readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Second, we must address the broader, overarching injustices and rivalries that fuel violence and tensions. A key aspect of my commitment to constructive interaction entails a sincere effort to engage with neighbors and other nations to identify and secure win-win solutions.
We and our international counterparts have spent a lot of time — perhaps too much time — discussing what we don’t want rather than what we do want. This is not unique to Iran’s international relations. In a climate where much of foreign policy is a direct function of domestic politics, focusing on what one doesn’t want is an easy way out of difficult conundrums for many world leaders. Expressing what one does want requires more courage.After 10 years of back-and-forth, what all sides don’t want in relation to our nuclear file is clear. The same dynamic is evident in the rival approaches to Syria.

This approach can be useful for efforts to prevent cold conflicts from turning hot. But to move beyond impasses, whether in relation to Syria, my country’s nuclear program or its relations with the United States, we need to aim higher. Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better. To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want — clearly, concisely and sincerely — and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action. This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.

As I depart for New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, I urge my counterparts to seize the opportunity presented by Iran’s recent election. I urge them to make the most of the mandate for prudent engagement that my people have given me and to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue. Most of all, I urge them to look beyond the pines and be brave enough to tell me what they see — if not for their national interests, then for the sake of their legacies, and our children and future generations.