Robert Levinson, a former FBI special agent and undercover CIA asset, has died while in captivity in Iran, according to a statement by his family.
Levinson’s story is complicated, to say the least. The former FBI special agent retired from the Bureau in 1998. He then proceeded to work as a private investigator. In 2007, he went missing on the Iranian island of Kish.
His family has stated that he was working as an undercover CIA asset. Reports support that claim and also add that Levinson was part of a rogue CIA operation when he was captured by Iranian counterintelligence officers.
Levinson had the unfortunate fate of becoming the longest-held hostage in American history. The last proof of life that the family had received was almost 10 years ago.
In the statement, the Levinson family said that “Today, with aching hearts, we are sharing devastating news about Robert Levinson, the head of our family. We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.”
Neither the family nor U.S. intelligence officials know when Levinson perished. What they do know, however, is that he has been dead for a number of months.
The Levinson family didn’t shun away from accusing the previous administrations of indecisiveness and lack of action, saying that their beloved one was left behind.
They also recognized the toils of the FBI agents, and indeed of all of those involved in the Levinson case. “To the men and women of the FBI, active and retired,” the family stated, “who did their best to bring our husband and father home – we know you, also, are mourning with us. Finding Bob Levinson was a personal mission for hundreds of agents and others who worked on this case over the years. We cannot even begin to describe our gratitude. He will always be one of the FBI’s own.”
In response to the Levinson family’s statement, President Trump said that the situation “It’s not looking good, he wasn’t well for years in Iran, it’s not looking promising… I’ve been very much involved in that and he was a great gentleman and a great family. But Robert Levinson, who was outstanding, has been sick for a long time. He had some rough problems prior to his detainment or capture. It’s not looking great, but I won’t accept that he’s dead. They haven’t told us he’s dead.”
In the past, Trump had repeatedly asked for the release of Levinson.
At least three American citizens are held hostage in Iran.