The family of American Robert Levinson is preparing Sunday to mark seven years since the former FBI agent disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island while on a mission for the CIA. Levinson turns 66 years old Monday.
“Today we remind the world that, after seven years, Bob is still not home with those who love him – his wife, sons, daughters, grandchildren and friends,” the family says in a emailed statement today. “Bob’s continued imprisonment defies the humanity in all of us. After seven years, we have almost no words left to describe our life without Bob… We miss everything about [him]. No matter where we turn, Bob is absent.”
Levinson, who served more than two decades with the FBI before retiring, was kidnapped from Kish Island off Iran’s southern coast on March 9, 2007. For years the government said Levinson was working at the time as a private investigator, but in December Levinson’s family acknowledged he was in fact working as a kind of freelance “spy” for a rogue CIA operation.
“The CIA sent Bob Levinson to Iran to do an investigation on its behalf,” family attorney David McGee said in December.
McGee told ABC News the CIA and the FBI betrayed Levinson as it tried to hide the fact that he had a long-term relationship with the CIA, spying on Iran’s nuclear program and on the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the rogue operation.
“[R]ather than acknowledge what they had done and try and save Bob’s life, they denied him,” McGee said. Levinson has been held in captivity longer than any other American, according to the FBI.
The day Levinson was outed as spy for the CIA, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to discuss the case, beyond saying Levinson was “not a U.S. government employee” when he was kidnapped. The CIA declined to comment on “any purported affiliation,” and only said, “The U.S. government remains committed to bringing him home safely to his family.”
The next day, Secretary of State John Kerry said in an exclusive interview that the idea the U.S. had abandoned Levinson was “simply incorrect and not helpful.”
“The fact is that I have personally raised the issue, not only at the highest level that I have been involved with, but also through other intermediaries,” Kerry said on ABC News’ “This Week”.
The Iranian government has denied holding Levinson, but American officials have repeatedly said they suspect that at the very least, Iranian government officials know where he is.
“We ask those that are holding Bob to show mercy and send him home to us so he may live out the rest of his life quietly and in peace,” the family’s statement today says. “We ask the government of Iran to resolve Bob’s case on humanitarian grounds so he may safely return home. We ask the U.S. government to recognize its duty to bring home one of its own who was taken while serving his country.”