U.S. believes ex-FBI agent has died in custody in Iran, family says


An FBI poster in 2012 displays a composite impression of previous FBI agent Robert Levinson, correct, and how he would seem when the poster was launched. Manuel Balce Ceneta/Affiliated Push, file
WASHINGTON — The U.S. authorities has concluded that retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished much more than a 10 years ago, has died even though in the custody of Iran, his spouse and children mentioned Wednesday.
Shortly immediately after the family’s announcement, President Trump informed reporters that “I won’t take that he’s lifeless,” even although his possess performing countrywide intelligence director appeared to validate the news with a assertion conveying sympathies for the Levinsons.
The household mentioned in a assertion posted on Twitter that it experienced no info about how or when Levinson experienced died, but that it happened ahead of the new coronavirus outbreak. The spouse and children explained information and facts that U.S. officers had acquired led them to conclude that he is dead.
U.S. officials communicated the news to Levinson’s household in a conference in Washington in new months, in accordance to a human being common with the situation who spoke on affliction of anonymity to go over the personal come upon. The individual mentioned the information and facts about Levinson experienced come from Iran’s foreign minister.
“It is unachievable to describe our agony,” the family’s assertion mentioned. “Our relatives will invest the relaxation of our lives devoid of the most wonderful person, a new reality that is inconceivable to us. His grandchildren will by no means meet him. They will know him only by means of the stories we explain to them.”
Levinson disappeared on March nine, 2007, when he was scheduled to meet a supply on the Iranian island of Kish. For years, U.S. officials would say only that Levinson was performing independently on a non-public investigation.
But a 2013 Connected Press investigation discovered that Levinson had been sent on a mission by CIA analysts who experienced no authority to run this kind of an procedure.
The Trump administration has made it a precedence to request the launch of American hostages and prisoners detained overseas. Last 7 days, administration officers touted the launch from Lebanon of a New Hampshire cafe operator jailed on many years-aged allegations and the healthcare furlough of a Navy veteran from an Iranian jail.
The Levinson household thanked several U.S. officials for their help, which includes FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Robert O’Brien, the Trump administration’s countrywide security adviser.
But it also claimed: “Those who are responsible for what transpired to Bob Levinson, which includes these in the U.S. authorities who for several yrs regularly still left him powering, will finally get justice for what they have completed. We will expend the rest of our life generating guaranteed of this, and the Iranian regime will have to know we will not be going away.”
The spouse and children reported it does not know when or if Levinson’s body will be returned for burial.
At a White Dwelling briefing on the coronavirus, Trump appeared to equivocate on the accuracy of the family’s statement, declaring that Iranian officials experienced not informed the U.S. that Levinson was lifeless and that “I will not take that he’s dead.”
But he also acknowledged that “it’s not searching promising” and stated Levinson, who had diabetes and superior blood pressure at the time of his disappearance, had experienced “some rough difficulties.”
“He was a terrific gentleman,” he stated.
The relatives acquired a online video in late 2010 and proof-of-life photographs in 2011 in which he appeared disheveled with a extensive beard and donning an orange prison jumpsuit like people given to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay jail. But even then, his whereabouts and destiny were not recognised.
Iran regularly has explained it has no information and facts about Levinson, though U.S. diplomats and investigators have extensive stated they thought he was taken by Iranian governing administration agents.
In November, the Iranian governing administration unexpectedly responded to a United Nations question by expressing that Levinson was the topic of an “open case” in Iranian Groundbreaking Court docket. Whilst the growth gave the spouse and children a burst of hope, Iran clarified that the “open case” was basically an investigation into his disappearance.
The announcement of his death arrives just months immediately after a federal choose in Washington held Iran liable for his disappearance, declaring the place was “in no uncertain terms” liable for Levinson’s “hostage getting and torture.” The spouse and children had sued for $one.five billion in damages.
The judge’s conclusion adopted a weekslong trial of psychological testimony from Levinson’s household, including every of his seven little ones.

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