U.S. believes Robert Levinson, ex-FBI agent who vanished in Iran, has died

U.S. believes Robert Levinson, ex-FBI agent who vanished in Iran, has died

The U.S. government has actually concluded that retired FBI representative Robert Levinson, who disappeared more than a years earlier, died while in the custody of Iran, his household and administration authorities stated Wednesday.

Robert Levinson had actually been missing since he vanished in Iran in2007 White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday evening that the U.S. believes Levinson “might have passed away some time ago.” (Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

The U.S. government has concluded that retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared more than a decade ago, died while in the custody of Iran, his household and administration authorities stated Wednesday.

The circumstances and timing of Levinson’s death were unclear, but White House national security advisor Robert O’Brien stated Wednesday evening that the U.S. believes Levinson “may have died some time back.” Hours earlier, his household said information U.S. officials had actually received had led them to conclude he was dead. Neither the government nor the family explained that information.

The death is believed to have actually happened prior to the current break out of the coronavirus that has seriously affected Iran and another nations, according to a statement from Levinson’s household.

The federal government’s acknowledgment of Levinson’s death came hours after a White Home instruction in which President Donald Trump appeared to equivocate on the news, saying, “I won’t accept that he’s dead.”

U.S. authorities communicated the news to Levinson’s family in a conference in Washington in recent weeks, according to a person knowledgeable about the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity to go over the personal encounter. The person said the info about Levinson had come from Iran’s foreign minister.

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” It is difficult to describe our discomfort,” the family’s declaration stated. “Our family will invest the rest of our lives without the most amazing man, a brand-new reality that is impossible to us. His grandchildren will never satisfy him. They will only understand him through the stories we inform them.’

With her household seated behind her, Christine Levinson, wife of Robert Levinson, affirms prior to your house Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 7,2019 (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

Levinson vanished on March 9, 2007, when he was arranged to fulfill a source on the Iranian island of Kish. For several years, U.S. officials would state only that Levinson was working separately on a private examination. But a 2013 Associated Press examination revealed that Levinson had been sent on an objective by CIA experts who had no authority to run such an operation.

The Trump administration has actually made it a concern to seek the release of American hostages and prisoners detained overseas. Recently, administration authorities promoted the release from Lebanon of a New Hampshire restaurant owner imprisoned on decades-old accusations and the medical furlough of a Navy veteran from an Iranian prison.

The Levinson household thanked several U.S. authorities for their assistance, including FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and O’Brien, who before his post as nationwide security advisor likewise functioned as the State Department’s primary hostage arbitrator.

Whereabouts, fate unknown

But the family statement likewise stated: “Those who are accountable for what took place to Bob Levinson, consisting of those in the U.S. government who for many years consistently left him behind, will eventually get justice for what they have done. We will spend the rest of our lives ensuring of this, and the Iranian regime needs to know we will not be going away.”

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The household said it does not know when or if Levinson’s body will be returned for burial.

At a White Home rundown on the coronavirus, Trump withstood verifying the household’s account, stating that Iranian authorities had not informed the U.S. about Levinson’s fate and that “I will not accept that he’s dead.”

But he also acknowledged that “it’s not looking promising” and said Levinson, who had diabetes and hypertension, had actually had “some rough issues” prior to his disappearance.

” He was a terrific gentleman,” he said.

Around the exact same time, though, the White Home’s acting nationwide intelligence director appeared to validate Levinson’s death with a tweeted declaration communicating condolences to the household. And by the night, the White House provided a brand-new declaration developed to remove a few of the unpredictability expressed by the president.

” As President Trump stated today, Iran needs to offer a total accounting of what accompanied Bob Levinson before the United States can totally accept what took place in this case,” O’Brien stated. “While the examination is continuous, we believe that Bob Levinson may have passed away a long time ago.”

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The family received a video in late 2010 along with proof-of-life pictures in 2011 in which he appeared dishevelled with a long beard and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit like those offered to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay jail. Even then, his whereabouts and fate were not known.

Christine Levinson, left, her child, Daniel, and her sis Susan exit Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport on Dec. 18, 2007 upon their arrival in Iran. The family of Robert Levinson filed a claim in 2017, against Iran. (Vahid Salemi/The Associated Press)

Iran repeatedly has actually said that it has no details about Levinson, though U.S. diplomats and investigators have actually long said they thought he was taken by Iranian federal government representatives.

In November, the Iranian government all of a sudden reacted to a United Nations query by saying that Levinson was the topic of an “open case” in Iranian Revolutionary Court. Although the development provided the household a burst of hope, Iran clarified that the “open case” was just an examination into his disappearance.

The announcement of his death comes just weeks after a federal judge in Washington held Iran responsible for his disappearance, stating the country was “in no unsure terms” responsible for Levinson’s “hostage taking and torture.”

The judge’s choice followed a weekslong trial of psychological statement from Levinson’s household, consisting of from each of his 7 children.