The family of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent and CIA contractor who vanished in Iran over 10 years ago, said on Wednesday that they believe he is dead based on “information from U.S. officials.”
“We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody,” a statement from the family read. “We don't know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Levinson disappeared in 2007 while working in Iran. He reappeared in a video and series of photos three years later, but has not been seen or heard from since.
“It is impossible to describe our pain,” the family’s statement read, adding that they would have to adjust to a “new reality that is inconceivable” to them. “His grandchildren will never meet him. They will only know him through the stories we tell them,” they wrote.
The statement also said those responsible for what happened to Levinson and the “U.S. government who for many years repeatedly left him behind” would eventually “receive justice” for what they did.
“We expect American officials, as well as officials around the world, to continue to press Iran to seek Bob's return, and to ensure those Iranian officials involved are held accountable,” they wrote.
The family thanked President Trump and several other Trump administration officials, who they said have “done all they could to make [their] family whole again.”
But in a Wednesday press conference, Trump appeared to express doubt about the information the family said they had received, saying, “They haven’t told us that he’s dead.”
At the same time, Trump acknowledged that “it’s not looking great” for Levinson, whom he described as a “great gentleman.”
“We’ve gotten so many people back … but uh, Robert Levinson, who was outstanding, he’s been sick for a long time. He had some rough problems prior to his detainment or capture. We feel terribly for the family,” the president said.
“It’s not looking great but I won’t accept that he’s dead,” he said.
The Daily Beast previously reported that the Obama Administraiton, at the time, did not make any public statements calling for Iran to free Levinson because they didn't believe the country knew where the ex-FBI agent was.
Theories posited that Levinson had been kidnapped by organized criminals, or factions in either Iranian security services or the Revolutionary Guard Corps.