Entries in Robert Levinson (4)


New Pictures of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Kidnapped in Iran

The family of Robert Levinson has released new images of the former FBI agent, who was kidnapped in Iran in 2007. (The Levinson Family(NEW YORK) -- The family of a former FBI agent who was kidnapped in Iran has released a new series of images of the 64-year-old man, showing him draped in chains and dressed in what appears to be a mock prison uniform. In each image he holds a sign, one of which reads, "Help me."

Robert Levinson was kidnapped while on a business trip to Iran's Kish Island in 2007. In the new images provided to ABC News and other outlets, the first made public since a 2010 "proof of life" video was released in December 2011, Levinson stares blankly into the camera for the five photos, his face framed by wild white hair and an unkempt white beard.

One of the signs makes reference to the U.S. government's detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 160 suspected Taliban fighters and al Qaeda members are held. "I Am Here in Guantanamo Do You Know Where It Is?" reads the sign.

"This is the result of 30 years serving for USA," says another. "Why you can not help me [sic]."

Authorities either do not know or have not publicly identified Levinson's suspected captors, but the U.S. government has repeatedly asked the Iranian government's help in finding him.

During Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United Nations in New York in September 2012, Levinson's family blanketed Times Square with missing posters and ads for Levinson. During the same visit, Ahmadinejad hinted to CBS News that Levinson may have been in Iranian custody.

"I remember that last year Iranian and American intelligence groups had a meeting, but I haven't followed up on it," he said in response to a question about Levinson.

In March 2012, the FBI announced a $1 million reward for information leading to Levinson's safe return.

The release of the new photos came the same day another American family with a relative held in Iran announced they were planning a demonstration outside Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

On Wednesday, Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who was arrested by the Iranian government on espionage charges, will have been held in the Middle Eastern nation for 500 days. He was originally sentenced to death, but the Iranian government later ordered a retrial.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News shortly after his son's arrest was made public, Hekmati's father said that his son was no spy.

"My son is no spy. He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," Hekmati said. "These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


FBI: $1 Million Reward for Ex-Agent Who Vanished in Iran

FBI(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the safe return of former agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran on a business trip five years ago this week and is thought to be held hostage there.

Levinson's wife of 37 years, Christine Levinson, and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced the reward at a Washington press conference Tuesday. The FBI also said it would put up billboards with pictures of Levinson in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere in the region.

"Today we stand together to reaffirm our commitment to Bob Levinson," said Mueller. "We in the FBI will continue to do all that we can to ensure Bob's safe return, his safe return to Christine and their family, his safe return to the FBI family, and to the country that he has served so well and so diligently for over 28 years."

Christine Levinson said "there are no words to describe the nightmare that my family and I have been living every day. I never imagined that we would still be waiting for Bob to come home five years later."

Robert Levinson, a former FBI Special Agent, vanished from Kish Island, Iran, on March 9, 2007, and was thought to be dead until a "proof-of-life" video surfaced in late 2011, the first sign since his disappearance that he was still alive. In the video, posted by his family on their website, a gaunt Levinson addresses "my beautiful, my loving, my loyal wife Christine," says he is being held hostage, and warns that his diabetes medication is running out.

"I am not in very good health," says Levinson.

He does not name his captors, but pleads for the United States to deal with them.

"I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me for three and a half years," he says, wearing a thin shirt and sitting on the floor.

Levinson reportedly visited the resort island as a private investigator on behalf of a documentary producer. He had planned to meet with an American fugitive accused of murdering a former Iranian official and was last seen checking into a hotel arranged for the meeting. U.S. officials reported that he was not acting in any way as part of the U.S. government or its agencies.

U.S. officials presumed Mr. Levinson dead prior to the hostage video, which was sent anonymously to his family's Pakistan and Afghanistan e-mail accounts. Other than the video, the captors have made no effort to contact either the family or U.S. officials.

Iran has repeatedly denied any knowledge of his whereabouts or the identity of his captors. However the U.S. State Department, which has continued pressing Iran for relevant information, believes Iranian officials know more than they have shared. U.S. officials also think Levinson may be held in the border region of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The family posted on their website Thursday, imploring the public to "generate as much press coverage around the five year anniversary of the kidnapping" as possible. They ask individuals to utilize Facebook to spread the message of their case.

Mr. Levinson retired from the FBI ten years before his disappearance to work for a private investigation firm. He is the father of seven children.

"We will never give up hope," says a statement on the family's website, "and every day we pray that today will be the day that our father will be released and allowed to return to the loving arms of his family."

"We often speak of the FBI family, and though he is retired from the FBI, Bob remains a member of the FBI family to this day," said Mueller. "It is our privilege to stand with the Levinson family for as long as it takes to bring Bob home."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kidnapped Former FBI Agent Seen In New 'Proof of Life' Video

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new "proof of life" video emerged Friday of former FBI agent Robert Levinson who disappeared in Iran in 2007, the first substantial piece of public evidence that he is alive and being held as a captive by an unknown group.

In the video, posted by his family on their website, Levinson appears gaunt, addresses "my beautiful, my loving, my loyal wife Christine," and says his diabetes medication is running out.

"I am not in very good health," says Levinson.

He does not name his captors but pleads for the United States to deal with them.

"I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me for three and a half years," he said, wearing a thin shirt and sitting on the floor in front of a rock facing.

"Please help me get home. Thirty-three years of service to the United States deserves something. Please help me," Levinson said on the tape, his voice breaking.

Christine Levinson told ABC News that her husband's appearance on the tape made her sad. "He has probably lost 75 pounds," she said, "and the shirt he was wearing is actually the shirt he wore when he disappeared. But I was happy at the same time because it was Bob."

Levinson has seven children and two grandchildren, and this December will mark his fifth holiday season without his family.

"The frustration is that every day passes," said Christine Levinson, "and he's still not home with us, and I don't know how to get him home."

American officials thought Levinson was dead until the hostage video was sent to his wife via e-mail accounts in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The family reportedly received the tape last November but is making it public only now.

"It could be that he was captured without authorization and now the group that's holding him is kind of embarrassed by it but they haven't figured out a way yet to let it go," said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official and now an ABC News consultant.

In a statement on the family website, Levinson's wife, Christine, and son, David, seek to send a message to the group holding the former FBI agent.

"We tried to contact you but you never responded," Levinson's son said.

"No one can help us but you," he said.

Levinson disappeared in March 2007 on the Iranian island of Kish where he had gone as part of his work as a private investigator.

U.S. officials say Levinson was not operating in any way on behalf of the U.S. government or any of its agencies at the time of his disappearance.

Iran has repeatedly denied any knowledge of what happened to Levinson, despite the evidence he was last seen in Iran.

U.S. diplomats have repeatedly pressed Iranian officials about Levinson with little success.

A State Department spokeswoman said Friday it was the family's idea to release the tape, and that she was "hopeful" that the publicity would bring more leads.

"We have been sharing relevant information that we have about his case with many governments to see what we can do," said Victoria Nuland.

However, the State Department currently has no further leads on Levinson's whereabouts.

"We're not in a position to confirm even where he is," Nuland said.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


After Hikers' Release, US Pressures Iran on Other Missing American

Last known photo of Bob Levinson is shown on the left with computer generated imaging showing what he may look like today on the right. -- After more than four years of negotiating for information about the disappearance of U.S. citizen and former FBI agent Robert Levinson during a business trip on Iran's southern coast, U.S. officials are hopeful this week's release of two American hikers will now shine a spotlight on the cold case.

"We have reason to believe he's still alive," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. "Let's keep the pressure on the government of Iran to release another American."

Nelson is urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address Levinson's whereabouts at the United Nations General Assembly this week, attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad followed news of the hikers' release -- which he told ABC News was a "humanitarian gesture" by Iran -- by blasting the U.S. and its allies in his address Thursday to the general assembly and suggesting the Holocaust and Sept. 11 attacks were Western conspiracies.

A U.S. State Department official told ABC News they are working with and pressing the Iranian government for information on Levinson.

"We're overjoyed with the release of [the American hikers] and we really want to see Mr. Levinson come home," the official said.

Levinson, a married father of seven from Florida, was last seen March 9, 2007, while he was on a business trip working for a private investigative firm in Kish Island. According to associates, Levinson had traveled to Kish to meet with an American fugitive accused of murdering a former Iranian official in suburban Washington in 1980. U.S. authorities said he was last seen after checking into a local hotel for the meeting. In March, Clinton said there were indications that he is still alive and being held somewhere in southeast Asia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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