Our family is very glad to hear of Robert O’Brien’s appointment. He has been a strong advocate within the U.S. government for our father, Robert Levinson. This is further evidence of President Trump’s commitment to bringing home Americans held abroad. We look forward to continuing to work with Ambassador O’Brien and the NSC to bring Bob Levinson home to those who love him.
March 7th, 2019
Mister Chairman, Ranking Members, and distinguished members of this committee;
My name is Christine Levinson. I am the wife of Robert “Bob” Levinson, an American held by the Iranian government. My husband is the longest held hostage in American history.
If I had my choice, I would not be sitting before you, to give the testimony I am about to give. I would be sitting at home, with my husband by my side. I am only here out of necessity.
My husband Bob has been a hostage for twelve years, and, despite trying to get him home by every means possible, I am absolutely no closer than I was when he first went missing on
March 9, 2007. I hold the Iranian government responsible, but I believe the US government is at fault as well.
Bob was taken nearly 12 years ago to this day, on Kish Island, Iran. Since that time, my family and I have had no direct contact with him. A few years ago we received a video of him as a hostage pleading for the help of the United States government, then photos of him wearing an orange jumpsuit. We have been unable to obtain any information on what needs to be done to return Bob home.
All the facts of the case tell us that Iranian authorities kidnapped my husband. I have been to Kish Island. I believe that it would be impossible for the Iranian government not to know what happened to Bob. We have confirmed that he made it to his hotel on Kish on March 8th, 2007, and left the hotel the next day. But his name was nowhere to be found on any passenger manifests for flights returning to Dubai.
Additionally, the FBI assessment of the video and photos that we received years later concluded that the Iranian government had to have developed them and sent them to us. The FBI also has a five million dollar reward that remains unclaimed.
The evidence has been so conclusive that the United Nations released an opinion in 2016 holding Iran responsible for Bob’s “continued deprivation of liberty.” Yet Iran has been allowed to feign ignorance over and over again – with absolutely no repercussions from the US.
My family’s dreams of re-uniting with Bob continue to remain just dreams. We believe he is alive, and we continue to receive reports that he is alive. At the same time, there is mounting urgency for his health and well-being. Every moment is of the essence for Bob, who turns 71 this Sunday.
After three very different US presidential administrations, we are no closer to bringing Bob home than we were when we started. We have nothing.
There have been some dedicated people from various government agencies on the front lines of Bob’s case, working hard to get him home. We are deeply grateful to them. At the same time, we have experienced shocking dysfunction from our officials. It became clear to me, early on, that major government bodies were not even talking to each other about the case. In addition, some past statements and misstatements to the media by US officials about Bob’s status, questioning if he is alive or in Iran, have severely undercut the efforts to hold Iran accountable. We know this because Iranian authorities have thrown these wrong statements back in our faces. The Iranians still regularly point to a statement made in error by the White House three years ago that Bob is not in Iran. That was wrong, but the US government gave Iran an excuse to not send Bob home.
And, in January 2016 when other American hostages were released and Bob was left behind, the United States government let Iran get away with it.
My husband served this country tirelessly for decades; he deserves better from all of us and from our government.
In addition to being a patriot, Bob is an incredible husband and father. We have raised seven children together. When our youngest daughter gets married in just two months, it will be the last daughter he has the opportunity to walk down the aisle. And everyone here knows how important that is to a dad.
Not a day or week goes by that I don’t get a phone call from one of my children saying how much they miss Bob and struggle without him. We are all suffering a living nightmare. We wonder endlessly what kind of conditions my husband is living through. We know how deeply he must ache, physically and spiritually, by being away from us for so long. By being
away from anyone he knows or loves, with absolutely no human rights. Does he have any human touch? Any access to sunlight? What kind of hell must he be living in, that both our government and the Iranian authorities have allowed him to live in for so long?
I want to close my testimony by asking each of you to imagine how devastated you would feel to be ripped away from your family, with no way to contact your loved ones, no human rights and no contact with the outside world. My husband has been held captive for 4,381 days. That’s 12 years this Saturday without his family. Imagine how alone he must feel.
We need your help. Today, Congressman Deutch and Senators Menendez and Rubio introduced the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act. I can not thank them enough for their continued support for Bob and our family. I truly hope this will do something to bring Bob home.
But when Saturday’s anniversary passes, and the media attention inevitably shifts, a different issue will take priority, and we will again feel like we have to take on this immense burden virtually alone. Without you we won’t succeed. Please help my family to get Bob
Jason Rezaian’s new book, Prisoner, confirms that Robert Levinson, America’s longest-held hostage, was deliberately left out of the negotiations between the U.S. and Iran leading to the release by Iran of 5 hostages in January 2016. Our father was left behind.
In Prisoner, Mr. Rezaian cites a source in the Iranian Supreme Leader’s office who states that, in discussions with members of the Obama administration, “the issue of Bob Levinson had initially been a point of contention throughout the negotiations (between Iran and the United States). Initially Levinson—or a complete accounting of what happened to him—was to be a part of the deal, but the Rouhani administration decided there was no political value at that time in acknowledging, after eight years, that, yes, Iran had been responsible for his disappearance.”
This information is unimaginably devastating to our family. To think that the Obama administration let Iran get away with this, and did not demand this information and the return of our father, is absolutely abhorrent.
We commend Jason Rezaian for sharing his harrowing story and being so transparent about the physical and mental anguish that he faced during his 544 days in an Iranian prison. As Mr. Rezaian continues to talk about his experience, we can’t help but think about what atrocities that our father, Robert Levinson, has endured over his 11 years in prison in Iran. This includes possible solitary confinement, nonstop interrogations, physical and emotional mistreatment, and health problems suffered through years of unjust imprisonment. We believe our father is alive – there is absolutely no evidence to prove otherwise – and, just like Mr. Rezaian, doing everything he can, every single day, to come home to us.
President Trump’s administration, including the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Robert C. O’Brien, has told us repeatedly how hard it is working to secure our father’s return home. We begin every day hoping that it will be the day that President Trump will be successful, that the Iranians will find the value in resolving this on humanitarian grounds, and that Bob Levinson will come home and be reunited with us, just as Mr. Rezaian was reunited with his family.
March 9, 2017
FROM THE WIFE, CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN OF ROBERT LEVINSON, AMERICA’S LONGEST-HELD HOSTAGE IN HISTORY –
When is enough enough? It has been 10 years since Robert Levinson, our amazing husband, father and grandfather, was arrested on Kish Island, Iran, and imprisoned. For 10 years the government of Iran has been allowed to dodge and weave every time it was asked to come clean about what happened to Bob and send him home. Where is the outrage of this treatment of an American citizen? For 10 years, over and over and over again, two U.S. Presidents abandoned him, a lifelong public servant. Even Bob’s government co-workers and their bosses – they know who they are – ran away when he disappeared, to their lasting shame. Ten years is beyond enough. How much more agony must he withstand? It is time to get Bob Levinson home to his family. And, to Bob, Dad and Grandpa Bob: Stay strong! We know you are alive and trying to come home to us. We love you more than ever. We miss you every hour of the day. We will never, never, ever give up looking for you.
We are the family of Robert Levinson, the husband, father and grandfather who was detained on Kish Island more than nine years ago, on March 9, 2007, and who has been missing and unable to see or even speak with us since that day.
It is impossible to convey the depth of the darkness and the tremendous loss our family has experienced without our father, the head of our family. Our father means everything to us. He is a man of deep faith who goes out of his way to help others. He is a loving father of seven children and four grandchildren. He brings light to our world. Yet he is being held against his will, with no contact with his family or anyone he knows for more than nine years. We are not aware of any charges that have been brought against him that would explain his being kept prisoner. We have had no contact with anyone claiming to be holding him.
We write with a simple humanitarian request involving an individual life, to you who are a father, that you help us find our father, Bob Levinson, so he may return to us and live the rest of his life in peace. His health is fragile, as he suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. Our sole desire for whatever time he has left on Earth is that he be surrounded by those who love him.
We see in your writings and speeches, especially to families and young people, that you regularly call for compassion, truth and justice. It is in this spirit that we reach out to you as we are still awaiting answers as to what happened to him. Your Excellency, you undoubtedly agree with us that not having any information about our father’s destiny while we are still awaiting with hope to find him, and never having had the opportunity in nine years to communicate with him, and his inability to hear the voice of his wife, our mother, and above all, being held as a prisoner without the benefit of any legal advocacy, all fall short of humanity, justice, Islamic compassion and the lessons you teach.
We believe that you granting our request is within your power Supreme Leader and Guardian Jurist. All we are asking for is justice regarding our father’s destiny. We implore you to bring justice, Islamic compassion and truth to our father and our family.
With our deepest respect and gratitude,
On behalf of the Levinson Family:
Daniel, David, Douglas, Samantha, and Sophia Levinson Ralph, Susan, and Bobby Boothe
Randy, Stephanie, Ryan and Grace Curry
Ryan, Sarah, and Sean Moriarty
نامه یِ سرگشاده به حضرت آیت الله سید علی خامنه ای
رهبر جمهوری اسلامی ایران
مقام معظم رهبری،
با سلام و احترام خدمت حضرتعالی، ما خانواده یِ رابرت لوینسون هستیم. شوهر، پدر و پدر بزرگی که بیش از نه سال پیش در تاریخ 9 مارس 2007 در جزیره کیش بازداشت و مفقود شده است و از آن روز، قادر به صحبت و دیداربا ما نبوده است.
بیان عمقِ تاریکی و فقدانِ عظیمی که خانواده ما در نبود پدر و سرپرست خانواده تجربه کرده ایم، امری غیر ممکن است. پدر ما یعنی همه چیز و همه کس ما. مردی با ایمانی قوی که همواره برای کمک به دیگران تلاش می کند. پدرِ دوست داشتنیِ هفت فرزند و چهار نوه که به دنیایِ ما نور به ارمغان می آورد. اما هم اکنون برخلاف اراده اش زندانی و قادر به تماس با خانواده و یا هیچ یک از عزیزانش نیست. ما اطلاعی از هیچگونه اتهامی که زندانی بودن او را توجیه کنُد، نداریم و افرادی که او را زندانی کرده اند هیچ تماسی با ما نگرفته اند.
ما برای تسلیم یک درخواستِ ساده و انسان دوستانه در مورد زندگیِ یک انسان به حضرتعالی که خود یک پدر هستید نامه نوشته ایم، که جنابعالی در پیدا کردن پدر ما، رابرت لوینسون، به کمک خانوادهٔ ما بیایید. بلکه او به ما بازگردد و بقیه عمر خود را در آرامش بسر ببرد. او مبتلا به بیماری دیابت و فشار خون بالا است و سلامتیش در خطر میباشد. آرزویِ ما برای مابقیِ عمر او بودن در کنار عزیزانش است.
ما شاهدیم که شما مرتباً در سخرانی ها و نوشتههای خود، مخصوصا به خانوادها و جوانان، آنها را به محبت، حقیقت و عدالت دعوت میفرمایید. درخواست ما در همین راستا است: حتماً حضرتعالی موافق هستید که نداشتن هیچگونه اطلاعاتی در مورد سرنوشت پدرمان در حالی که ما امیدوارانه در انتظار یافتن او هستیم و نداشتن امکان صحبت با پدر خود برای نه سال و اینکه او حتی قادر به شنیدن صدای همسرش (مادر ما) نبوده است و نیز عدم دسترسی او به عنوان یک زندانی به مشاوره حقوقی همگی بدور از انسانیت، عدالت، شفقت اسلامی و آموزه های حضرتعالی است.
ما باورداریم که برآوردن این درخواستِ انسان دوستانه تنها در حیطه قدرت حضرتعالی به عنوان مقام معظم رهبری و ولی فقیه است. تنها درخواست ما اجرای عدالت درباره سرنوشت پدر ما است. ما از آن مقام محترم تمنی داریم، عدالت، شفقت اسلامی و حقیقت را برای پدرو خانواده ما به ارمغان بیاورید.
با تقدیم احترام،
کریستین، دانیل، دیوید، سوفیا و سامانتا لوینسون؛ رالف، سوزان و بابی بوث، رندی، استفانی، رایان و گریس کاری، و رایان، سارا و شان موریارتی
Statement from Christine Levinson, Bob’s wife, on the 9th anniversary of Bob being taken in Iran:
A few days ago, hundreds of people from around the country came together with our family in Florida to demand “Where is Bob Levinson?” and ask how it is possible that, 9 years after being taken hostage in Iran, this wonderful man is still not home. My children and I ask those same questions every day.
These past 9 years – 3, 288 days – have been harder for our family than anyone could ever imagine. But, as difficult as it has been for us, we know that Bob is living a nightmare that is 100 times worse. We need the United States government and the country of Iran to work together to resolve what happened to Bob and return him safely to his family.
We are happy for the other families. But once again, Bob Levinson has been left behind. We are devastated.
By David Levinson
Updated 7:06 PM ET, Fri June 19, 2015
Son of American detainee in Iran pleas for release
Son of American detainee in Iran pleas for release 02:47
Bob Levinson has been missing since 2007
David Levinson: I know one day we will see each other again
“David Levinson, is one of Bob and Christine Levinson’s seven children. Bob Levinson was detained while visiting Kish Island, Iran, in March 2007. The views expressed are David’s own.”
(CNN)About 10 years ago, as a college freshman in an Atlanta university and 600 miles from home, I was in trouble. For the first time in my life, I was stuck in a deep depression, due both to academic struggles and personal relationships. I hadn’t developed any friendships, was cut from a number of activities I hoped to be involved with, and, of course, I was homesick.
I remember the voice message I left for my Dad, telling him I hated it. I hated school, I hated the challenge, and I hated life. I told him I was scared — fearful that I had made the wrong choice of schools; that my life was now heading on a downward spiral that I could no longer control.
I expected a follow-up call. Maybe even a care package. Instead, the next day, my father showed up at my college dormitory, uncharacteristically driving a rented, flashy two-door sports car.
“Hey Davey,” he said as he picked me up. “Like my ‘ride’?”
I laughed, and told him he might as well have been wearing a Superman cape. I needed him that day, more than I think even he knew. We spent the day together and he bought me lunch and some much-needed groceries. But his biggest contributions that day were his listening skills and his advice.
“This is a phase,” he said. “A tough phase of life. It will pass. And you will be stronger from it.”
A little over a year later, my father disappeared. While traveling on Kish Island, Iran, he was detained and lost all communication with my family. Although we haven’t been able to speak to him since March of 2007, we have been a witness to his suffering. Several years ago, we received a video of him, looking broken and beaten, pleading for help from the United States government.
Less than a year later, we received photos of him in an orange jumpsuit, holding up messagesmocking our helpless attempts to return him home. When I first saw these photos, I realized how unrecognizable my father had become; that same confident, smiling man who I shared lunch with that day 10 years ago had been transformed completely. It was clear that on a daily level, he has been living through hell.
A few weeks ago, my brother, Dan, spoke in front of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,imploring them to do everything they could to help our Dad, especially as negotiations remain ongoing for a nuclear deal between the United States and Iran.
“Crunch time,” my brother called it. I couldn’t agree more, but for some additional reasons. This October, I’ll become the first of my father’s three sons to get married, as I’ve found a partner who I can only describe as the woman of my dreams.
It would be amazing to have my father front and center for the ceremony, as he has already missed walking two of my sisters down the aisle for their weddings. But most of all, I just want him to be able to meet my fiancee. I know he would love her, that he would see how much I love her, and that he would share a few words of advice to guide me through the nerves of wedding preparation.
I believe in my father, and I know how determined he is to get home. There is no doubt in my mind that one day he will succeed, that one day we will see each other again and he will meet my future wife. She is hopeful for that day as well, and longs to meet the man I am constantly trying to emulate each day.
In the meantime, on this Father’s Day, just like every Father’s Day for the past eight years, I’ll relive that day in Atlanta and reflect on how lucky I have been to know my father, how fortunate I have been to learn from him, and how proud I am to be his son. I don’t need him to throw on a Superman cape or drive a fancy sports car to my wedding in October — just being there will be heroic enough.
Until that day, here’s wishing you a Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
We are grateful to President Obama for raising Bob’s case today and to the FBI for recently increasing the reward to $5 million. Both of these actions give us renewed hope. Bob is the center of our family. In the name of all our children and grandchildren, I again implore those who are holding Bob to show mercy and restore him to us.
Statement by the President on U.S. Citizens Detained or Missing in Iran
The spirit of family is deeply woven into all of the rich cultural traditions of the Nowruz holiday. It is a time for reuniting and rejoicing with loved ones and sharing hopes for the new year. Today, as families across the world gather to mark this holiday, we remember those American families who are enduring painful separations from their loved ones who are imprisoned or went missing in Iran.
Saeed Abedini of Boise, Idaho has spent two and a half years detained in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs. He must be returned to his wife and two young children, who needlessly continue to grow up without their father.
Amir Hekmati of Flint, Michigan has been imprisoned in Iran on false espionage charges for over three and a half years. His family, including his father who is gravely ill, has borne the pain of Amir’s absence for far too long.
Jason Rezaian of Marin County, California, an Iranian government credentialed reporter for the Washington Post, has been unjustly held in Iran for nearly eight months on vague charges. It is especially painful that on a holiday centered on ridding one’s self of the difficulties of the past year, Jason’s mother and family will continue to carry the heavy burden of concern regarding Jason’s health and well-being into the new year.
And finally, we recently marked yet another anniversary since Robert Levinson went missing on Kish Island. His family has now endured the hardship of his disappearance for over eight years.
At this time of renewal, compassion, and understanding, I reiterate my commitment to bringing our citizens home and call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian and to work cooperatively with us to find Robert Levinson so that they all can be safely reunited with their families as soon as possible.
In honor of the familial spirit so strongly enshrined within this holiday and for the Abedini, Hekmati, Rezaian, and Levinson families, I hope this new spring is filled with joyous moments for us all with all of our loved ones by our sides.