Iran Admits Ex-FBI Agent Missing Since 2007 Is Being Prosecuted in Revolutionary Court

The mission shrouded in secrecy had not been authorized by the CIA
November 9, 2019 Updated: November 10, 2019

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—Iran is acknowledging for the first time it has an open case before its Revolutionary Court over the 2007 disappearance of a former FBI agent, renewing questions over what happened to him.

In a filing to the United Nations, Iran wrote, “According to the last statement of Tehran’s Justice Department, Mr. Robert Alan Levinson has an ongoing case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how long the case had been open, nor the circumstances by which it started.

The admission comes amid a renewed push by the Trump administration to find him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Nov. 4 that the administration is offering $20 million for information on Levinson in addition to the $5 million offered earlier by the FBI.

The Levinson family told The Washington Post they’ve been encouraged by the actions taken by the Trump administration after the Obama administration “showed little evidence of working to free Levinson.”

“We’re encouraged,” the family told the Post. “This administration is engaged and completely committed to bringing my dad home.

“They’ve taken it as a personal mission. I think they care passionately about bringing my dad and other Americans home.”

The Associated Press on Saturday obtained the text of Iran’s filing to the U.N.’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

“According to the last statement of Tehran’s Justice Department, Mr. Robert Alan Levinson has an on going case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran,” the filing said. It did not elaborate.

Iran’s Revolutionary Court typically handles espionage cases and others involving smuggling, blasphemy, and attempts to overthrow its Islamic government. Westerners and Iranian dual nationals with ties to the West often find themselves tried and convicted in closed-door trials in these courts, only later to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations.

Iran’s mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and its state media has not acknowledged the case. The U.S. State Department did not respond to a request for comment about Iran’s acknowledgement.

Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island on March 9, 2007, The Washington Post reported. For years, U.S. officials would only say that Levinson, a meticulous FBI investigator credited with busting Russian and Italian mobsters, was working for a private firm on his trip.

In December 2013, the AP revealed Levinson in fact had been on an unauthorized mission lead by at least three veteran CIA analysts who were subsequently forced out of the agency. The CIA also disciplined seven others in relation to the rogue spy operation.

Levinson’s family had received a $2.5 million annuity from the CIA in order to stop a lawsuit revealing details of his work.

Since his disappearance, the only photos and video of Levinson emerged in 2010 and 2011. He appeared gaunt and bearded with long hair, and was wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those worn by detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The video, with a Pashtun wedding song popular in Afghanistan playing in the background, showed Levinson complaining of poor health.

Rumors about him have circulated for years, with one account claiming he was locked up in a Tehran prison run by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and U.S. officials suggesting he may not be in Iran at all.

An FBI poster showing a composite image of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, right, of how he would look like now after five years in captivity, and an image, left, taken from the video, released by his kidnappers, Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Washington during a news conference. The FBI announced a reward of up to $1million for information leading directly to the safe location, recovery and return of Robert A. Levinson, a U.S. citizen and former FBI Special Agent who disappeared from Kish Island, Iran, five years ago. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
An FBI poster showing a composite image of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, (R) of how he would look like now after five years in captivity, and an image, (L) taken from the video, released by his kidnappers, Tuesday, March 6, 2012, in Washington during a news conference. The FBI announced a reward of up to $1million for information leading directly to the safe location, recovery and return of Robert A. Levinson, a U.S. citizen and former FBI Special Agent who disappeared from Kish Island, Iran, five years ago. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Dawud Salahuddin, an American fugitive living in Iran who is wanted for the assassination of a former Iranian diplomat in Maryland in 1980, is the last known person to have seen Levinson before his disappearance.

Iran has offered a series of contradictory statements about Levinson in the time since.

It asked the U.N. group to close its investigation into Levinson in February, saying “no proof has been presented by the claimant in this case to prove the presence of the aforesaid in Iran’s detention centres.”

By Jon Gambrell. 

Epoch Times contributed to this report.

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