Ex-FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 believed dead - family

“It is impossible to describe our pain

Fox News reported that "Levinson was 58 years old when he traveled to Kish Island, Iran, in 2007 working as a private investigator as part of an unauthorized Central Intelligence Agency mission allegedly probing cigarette smuggling".

But The Washington Post reported in 2013 that Levinson, who had retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was working for the CIA and had gone on a rogue mission aimed at gathering intelligence on Iran. "They haven't told us that he's dead, but a lot of people are thinking that that's the case".

"We recently received information from USA officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody", the Levinson family said in a statement.

Levinson's relatives vowed they would continue to pursue justice, both from the USA officials who stonewalled them for years and the Iranian captors.

"I mean, I have to say this, and they have been making this statement to the family I believe, but it's not looking good". "Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most incredible man, a new reality that is inconceivable to us".

"It's not looking promising ... we feel terribly for the family". "We don't know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID 19 pandemic", the family said.

The US president added: "I won't accept that he's dead".

But Levinson's family said that it had learned that he was dead, although it gave no information on how or when.

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said in a statement later: "While the investigation is ongoing, we believe that Bob Levinson may have passed away some time ago". "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". For years, US officials would only say that Levinson was working independently on a private investigation.

This undated handout photo provided by the family of Robert Levinson after they received it in April 2011, shows retired-FBI agent Robert Levinson. A handful of CIA officials were forced out of the agency and several more were disciplined after an internal agency investigation.

The family thanked Trump and his administration in their statement, saying that they "have done all they could to make our family whole again".

Trump called Levinson "a gentleman" and "outstanding". Whether any new intelligence informed the recent assessment he had died was not immediately known, though the Trump administration has this year repeated demands that Levinson be returned home.

Archin, who served as the Defense Department's Iran country director, examined the files last fall following the odd admission by Tehran's judicial system to a United Nations body that an open case against Levinson existed despite 12 years of denials by the regime that he ever was detained there.

"To be clear, the Iranian regime is fully responsible for Bob Levinson's disappearance and his death", said Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Shortly afterward, Levinson disappeared, but Iran repeatedly denied capturing him or knowing of his whereabouts.

"At the same time, upon information & belief, Iran is, & has been, enriching uranium".

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