United States intelligence officials have informed the family of Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who was last seen in Iran in 2007, they have concluded that he has died.
A family member of Levinson told The New York Times that his close relatives were informed of the assessment during a meeting in the White House Situation Room sometime in the last few weeks. However, U.S. officials were unable to determine his death with absolute certainty.
U.S. intelligence officials have also not confirmed the timing of Levinson’s suspected death, but assured the family the assessment was made based on recent information, reports the news agency. Officials did determine, however, that the death probably occurred within the last several years.
The family has accepted the assessment from intelligence officials and announced Levinson’s death in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon.
“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,” said the family’s statement. “It is impossible to describe our pain. Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man we have ever known, a new reality that is inconceivable to us.”
“If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today,” said the statement. “How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands.”
“Those who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, including those in the U.S. government who for many years repeatedly left him behind, will ultimately receive justice for what they have done. We will spend the rest of our lives making sure of this, and the Iranian regime must know we will not be going away,” said the family.
According to NBC News, Iran has continued to deny they were involved in Levinson’s disappearance, and a spokesperson for Iran’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. claimed the country has “no knowledge of Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts.”
President Trump informed White House reporters Wednesday afternoon that he was not able to confirm Levinson’s death, reports the news agency.
“It’s not looking promising,” said the president, who maintained that while Iran didn’t explicitly confirm the death, “a lot of people are thinking that is the case.”
During a 2013 investigation, The Associated Press revealed that the retired FBI agent was on an unauthorized CIA intelligence gathering mission, working on behalf of a group of U.S. intelligence analysts.
Both the Bush and Obama administration had maintained that Levinson was visiting Iran on private business, and that the CIA was not involved in the matter, reports the news agency.
AP explained that the decision to reveal Levinson’s CIA affiliation was only made after government officials had exhausted their leads, and after government officials had determined Iran was already aware of Levinson’s CIA status.