(JTA) – The family of Robert Levinson, a Jewish American former FBI agent missing since 2007, said he died in Iranian custody, contrary to longstanding Iranian claims that the regime did not know his whereabouts. The family posted the “devastating” news “with aching hearts” on Twitter on Wednesday, March 25, on the “Help Bob Levinson” account. “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,” the statement said. “We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Iran as recently as November had said that Levinson was officially a missing person case. The family denounced the regime for its cruelty in its treatment of Levinson and in withholding the information. “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,” the statement said. The family said it would continue to hold responsible the Iranian regime and “those in the U.S. government who for many years repeatedly left him behind.” The family is suing Iran in federal court. It did not name in the statement the U.S. officials it held responsible.
The statement thanked Trump administration officials, active and retired FBI agents and past and current members of Florida’s congressional delegation for pushing for-ward the case.
Levinson, of Coral Springs, Fla., a private investigator and former FBI agent who was also a part-time consultant for the CIA, disappeared in 2007 on Iran’s Kish Island during what was first described as a work trip for private firms. He was 58. It was later revealed as a rogue CIA operation. Last year, on the 12th anniversary of his disappearance, the Trump administration announced a $20 million reward from the State Department Rewards for Justice, in addition to the $5 million the FBI has for years offered for information leading to the rescue of its former agent.