Iran has publicly revealed for the first time that it has an active legal case involving former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing inside Iran in 2007 under suspicious circumstances.
In a filing to the United Nations, Iran wrote: “According to the last statement of Tehran’s Justice Department, Mr. Robert Alan Levinson has an ongoing case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran.”
“Mr. Levinson was last seen alive about eight years ago, in a hostage video pleading for help and in photographs wearing a Guantánamo-style jumpsuit,” The Associated Press reported. “The images did not disclose who was holding him, though the video has a Pashtun wedding song popular in Afghanistan playing in the background.”
It was not clear how long the case had been open or the events that started it.
The news came after the Trump administration announced on Monday — which was the anniversary of when Iranian terrorists stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the Iranian regime took over 50 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days — that it was offering a $20 million reward for information leading to Levinson’s safe recovery.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement:
The Trump Administration has made clear that the regime in Iran must release all missing and wrongfully detained Americans, including Robert Levinson, Xiyue Wang, Siamak Namazi, and others. We will not rest until they are reunited with their families.
Additionally, today the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program is advertising a new reward of up to $20 million for information leading to the safe location, recovery, and return of Robert Levinson, who was taken hostage in Iran with the involvement of the Iranian regime. Mr. Levinson is the longest-held hostage in U.S. history.
The $20 million reward offered by the Trump administration is in addition to a $5 million reward being offered by the FBI.
Iran’s filing at the U.N. came in response to a 2016 complaint that the Levinson family filed with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Involuntary Disappearances.
The family was told at the time not to expect a response from Iran.
Iran’s response to the family comes as the Islamic regime is being crushed by U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program, which Iran has illegally restarted in defiance of an agreement they signed.
“Mr. Levinson disappeared from Kish Island, off the coast of Iran, on March 9, 2007. For years, United States officials would only say that Mr. Levinson, a meticulous F.B.I. investigator credited with busting Russian and Italian mobsters, was working for a private firm on his trip,” The AP added. “In December 2013, The A.P. revealed that Levinson had in fact been on a mission for C.I.A. analysts who had no authority to run spy operations. Mr. Levinson’s family had received a $2.5 million annuity from the C.I.A. in order to stop a lawsuit revealing details of his work, while the agency forced out three veteran analysts and disciplined seven others.”
The Washington Post reported that after the U.S. government “showed little evidence of working to free Levinson” under former President Barack Obama, the Levinson family believes that President Donald Trump has made the case a top priority
“We’re encouraged. This administration is engaged and completely committed to bringing my dad home,” the family told The Post. “They’ve taken it as a personal mission. I think they care passionately about bringing my dad and other Americans home.”