On the 11th anniversary of Robert A. “Bob” Levinson’s disappearance from Kish Island, Iran, the FBI has called for his return.
In an official statement FBI said, “Mr. Levinson disappeared on March 9, 2007, and as he was taken inside Iran, the FBI and the United States Government call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to return Mr. Levinson home to his family.”
Referring to an agreement “in recent years”, between the Government of the Islamic Republic and the United Stated to “cooperate in sharing information which would lead to Mr. Levinson”, the statement noted, “The FBI calls on the Government of Iran to uphold this commitment so that Mr. Levinson and his family can be reunited.”
Robert (Bob) Levinson, who will turn seventy Saturday, March 10, has disappeared in Iran and presumed held there for eleven years.
A $5 million reward for information that could lead to his safe return remains unclaimed. The FBI has set up a website with information about Levinson and the reward.
Meanwhile, his family has also issued a statement on his eleventh anniversary of disappearance, lamenting, “Despite years of promises by the government of Iran and by three U.S. administrations, Bob [father of seven] is still not home.”
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly maintained it has no information on him, but the Levinson family is not giving up hope, “For 11 years we have pleaded with too many Iranian and U.S. officials to count; we have asked countries around the world that have relations with Iran to help us; we have asked religious leaders of the world's leading faiths to help us; we have asked companies authorized to do business with Iran to help us. We have traveled to Iran. We have asked influential private citizens, foreign policy experts, and the UN for advice. We have written letter after letter after letter. Eleven years later, no one has been able to help us. How is this possible?"
In the meantime, the State Department press secretary Heather Nauert asserted in a statement that the United States "remains unwavering in our commitment to bring him home."
"We share our deepest sympathy with his family which has suffered from his absence for over a decade. We will not rest until the Levinson family is whole again," Nauert said. "Iran committed to cooperating with the United States to assist us in bringing Robert Levinson home and we call on Iran to fulfill this commitment."
Furthermore, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the Islamic Republic regime’s "continued denial of his whereabouts--- farcical." Levinsons live in Florida.
"Little occurs in the country without Iran’s Islamic rulers knowing about it," Rubio said. "Last year, Senator Nelson and I introduced a resolution in the Senate urging the president and our allies to press Iran on Bob’s disappearance. I hope the Senate will pass this resolution soon and remind Tehran that we will never forget about Bob. I remain committed as ever to bringing Bob Levinson back home to his family.”
Robert (Bob) Levinson, a former FBI agent, disappeared eleven years ago while visiting Kish Island, southern Iran. There are unconfirmed reports saying that he has died while in custody. Nevertheless, there are also reports insisting that he is still alive and kept somewhere in eastern Iran, near Afghanistan border.
Wall Street Journal last month reported that President Trump’s administration had proposed creating a direct channel between Tehran and Washington for negotiating the fate of U.S. and the Islamic Republic citizens who are behind bars in the two countries. According to WSJ, Tehran has not responded to the proposal, yet.
Seven other U.S. citizens and permanent U.S. residents have been arrested in Iran over the past two years: Princeton doctoral student Xiyue Wang, art gallery owner Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Niasari, Robin Reza Shahini, an Iranian-American from California, Siamak Namazi and his 81-year old Baquer as well as Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national with U.S. permanent residency.