Thursday, July 17, 2008

Retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson "Disappeared" in Iran

This father and grandfather is Bob Levinson. He has a wife and seven children. Mr. Levinson disappeared from Iran's Kish Island on March 9, 2007, but the FBI believes he is still in Iran. Mr. Levinson's family maintains a site about their husband and father called Help Bob Levinson. His son Daniel recently wrote a poignant article about his missing dad in The Washington Post (6-22-08).

It seems that in Iran the government takes people away, and their families don't know where they are. I wrote yesterday about the disappearance of two Iranian doctors, AIDS experts, who were detained by the Iranian authorities and have not been seen since.

The American and international media is also continuing to wonder what happened to the retired FBI agent Mr. Levinson.

Mr. Levinson's son Dan wrote in The Washington Post (6-22-08):

We are no closer to finding answers than we were when our father disappeared March 9, 2007, on Kish Island, Iran. He was on a private business trip, and I emphasize "private" because, although he worked for the FBI years ago, he has been retired for more than a decade.

When he disappeared, my father was investigating cigarette smuggling -- a known problem in that region -- on behalf of several large companies. The last man known to have seen him claims to have been detained by security officials on Kish Island and says he believes the same thing happened to my father. A few weeks after his disappearance, a news article by Press TV -- an Iranian government-sanctioned media outlet -- reported that my dad was "in the hands of Iranian security forces." No other details were provided.

Since this report more than a year ago, the Iranian government has said it has no information about my father.

Mr. Levinson's wife Christine is going to Iran again to search for him:

[Christine] Levinson [is] concerned about her husband's health. He suffers from diabetes, hypertension and gout.

"No matter what, I am going to continue to search for Bob for as long as it takes. This is my job," she noted.

Reuters (7-15-08): notes:

[Christine Levinson] said the next visit was aimed at following up to see if officials had uncovered any new leads. In addition, they hoped to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"They said their religion requires them to help all people and they would continue to investigate. ...

That was over seven months ago and we still have not heard anything," she said.

Bob Levinson retired from the FBI a decade ago and his wife said he told her he was going to Kish to investigate counterfeiting and smuggling of cigarettes for a client, most likely a tobacco company.

Unfortunately, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is believed by some to have been one of the the "students" who kidnapped American diplomats during President Carter's administration and held them hostage from 1979-81 until President Reagan was innaugurated.

Daniel Pipes writes in Kommersant Daily (11-13-06):

Five former American hostages confirmed that Ahmadinejad as one of their captors. William J. Daugherty, a former intelligence officer, said he saw Ahmadinejad 8 to 10 times at the start of his captivity: "I recognized him right off. … I remember so much his hatred of Americans. It just emanated from every pore of his body." [Russian version here. Different views here.]

Today, while an American father and husband is missing in Iran and possibly held by the Iranian government, President Ahmadinejad addresses our university students and the United Nations. Maybe some American students or U.N. officials could ask President Ahmadinejad where people are disappearing to in Iran.

Everything possible should be done to have Mr. Levinson returned to his family. FBI agents do so much to keep our people safe. They are people with integrity and respect for the law and human rights who speak truth to power every day in their jobs, unlike some dishonest ex-perfessors who tell contemptible lies about the FBI for a living. [See here and here.]

According to The Washington Post (4-4-07):

A senior U.S. official said Levinson's project was
"innocuous" and "had no connection with anything political." Levinson also may have been doing some consulting work, U.S. officials said.

Here is the FBI (7-15-08) press release:

FBI Seeking Information about Missing Retired Special Agent Robert Levinson

Retired FBI Special Agent Robert Levinson has been missing since March 2007 and is believed to be in Iran. As Mr. Levinson is a retired Special Agent, the FBI has an interest in his disappearance. Through the FBI’s legal attaché offices worldwide, the FBI is working with the Department of State to gather information regarding his safety and whereabouts.

The FBI has obtained information that Mr. Levinson arrived on Iran’s Kish Island on March 8, 2007, had several meetings at the Maryam Hotel, and then checked out the next day. However, Mr. Levinson did not fly to Dubai on a previously scheduled flight. There is no record of Mr. Levinson leaving Kish Island. Nor is there any record of Mr. Levinson using his passport or credit cards after March 9, 2007.

“This is a matter of great concern for the FBI. Bob had a long and distinguished FBI career, and he has a wife, four daughters, three sons, one grandchild, and another on the way, all awaiting his return. Plain and simple, our goal is to bring Bob home to his family,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Joseph Persichini, Jr., Washington Field Office.

Anyone with information about Mr. Levinson’s disappearance should contact their local FBI field office, or if outside the U.S., the legal attaché at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You can also submit information on the web at www.fbi.gov.

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