Longest Held American Hostage: Ex-FBI Agent Held Hostage in Iran for 6 Years

November 26, 2013 7:14 pm Last Updated: November 26, 2013 7:15 pm

The longest held American hostage is Robert Levinson, 65, a retired FBI agent who has been held in Iran for more than six years. It is unclear who took him hostage but on Tuesday, he surpassed the time held by a former reporter.

He has been held for 2,454 days–longer than ex-Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson, who was held captive in Lebanon.

It is unclear if Levinson is still alive, but he was taken hostage in Iran while he was working as a private investigator, CBS News reported. U.S. officials said that me may have been held in Southwestern Asia but it’s not clear.

He disappeared on the island of Kish and Iranian authorities have denied knowing where he is. Two years ago, photos and video were released of him, looking bearded and disheveled.

On Tuesday, the White House sent out a statement, saying the U.S. remains committed to finding Levinson.

“We respectfully ask the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist us in securing Mr. Levinson’s health, welfare, and safe return,” it said.

Christine Levinson also issued a plea on her website, HelpBobLevinson.com.

“No one would have predicted this terrible moment more than six and a half years ago when Bob disappeared. Our family will soon gather for our seventh Thanksgiving without Bob, and the pain will be almost impossible to bear,” she said.

Levinson added that he has a month-old grandson.

“We can’t wait for you to meet him. We love you and will never stop working to bring you home safely,” she said.

His son, Dan, also wrote that with the leadership change in Iran, he hopes that new President Hassan Rouhani will look into the matter.

“Given the negotiations between the United States and Iran over Tehran?s nuclear program, we particularly hope that officials can use their ongoing contact to resolve my father?s case,” he wrote. “Doing so would show the world that our two countries can work together to resolve our differences and would demonstrate Iran’s willingness to help an average American family’s plight.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that Obama specifically raised Levinson’s case as well as those of U.S. citizens Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, who have been detained in Iran, during a telephone conversation earlier in the fall with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Abedini is a pastor from Boise, Idaho; Hekmati is a former U.S. Marine whose family lives in Michigan.

“It is our view that all of these Americans should have the opportunity to come home,” Earnest told reporters traveling with Obama in Los Angeles. “The U.S. government has made a respectful request of the Iranian regime during this holiday season to consider on humanitarian grounds releasing these three Americans, or at least releasing the two Americans we know are detained and locating the whereabouts of the third, Mr. Levinson.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.