Marking the three-year anniversary of the arrest of a U.S. citizen in Iran, the State Department called upon the Islamic government to release all Americans detained by the nation.
“The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends and loved ones,” the agency said in a press release.
Friday marks the third anniversary since Amir Hekmati was arrested on espionage charges. The U.S. government has stated that the charges are false and that Mr. Hekmati traveled to Iran to visit family.
The agency also called for the release of Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor supposedly arrested due to his religious beliefs; and Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter. Mr. Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, is a writer for a Middle Eastern paper and is also being held.
The Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Society) and the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) are asking the 20,000 members of both associations to observe a moment of silence on Friday, March 7 at 3:00pm EST to mark the seventh anniversary of the disappearance of former Special Agent Robert Levinson.
This Sunday, March 9, 2014, will mark seven years since Robert Levinson was kidnapped while visiting Kish Island, Iran. He was taken hostage on March 9, 2007, and is the longest-held hostage in American history.
Today we remind the world that, after seven years, Bob is still not home with those who love him - his wife, sons, daughters, grandchildren and friends. Bob’s continued imprisonment defies the humanity in all of us.
After seven years, we have almost no words left to describe our life without Bob. We miss his face, his voice, his laughter, his wisdom and his embrace. We miss everything about Bob. No matter where we turn, Bob is absent.
Bob will be 66 years old on Monday, March 10. We continue to be extremely worried about his health, especially due to his advancing age and the harsh conditions that he is enduring. We pray that he is receiving the medical care he may need.
We ask those who are holding Bob to show mercy and send him home to us so he may live out the rest of his life quietly and in peace. We ask the government of Iran to resolve Bob’s case on humanitarian grounds so he may safely return home. We ask the U.S. government to recognize its duty to bring home one of its own who was taken while serving his country.
Bob, if you are able to see or hear this message, we urge you to be strong. You have two new grandsons: One was born just three weeks ago; the other is four months old - the same age our oldest grandson was when you were first kidnapped. Our love for you grows each day, and we pray for that moment when we will be reunited as a family.
Robert Levinson was working for CIA in Iran, wife says
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson seen captive in this undated photograph. Levinson family
NEW YORK — For the nearly seven years Robert Levinson has been missing, his wife has backed the U.S. government’s claim that Levinson was kidnapped in Iran while working as a private detective investigating cigarette smuggling.
But on Tuesday, for the first time, Christine Levinson confirmed her husband Bob was also working for U.S. intelligence. “He was working as a consultant for the CIA,” she told CBS News. “He was also a private investigator. He was able to do both at the same time in his travels.”
Christine Levinson confirmed that as her husband worked on private initiatives, he would also funnel information to the CIA from time to time.
Her lawyer, David McGee, said the U.S. government should make a similar public admission to Iran in a bid to win Levinson’s release.
“There is no further value in continuing to deny what everyone in the world knows to be the truth,” McGee said.
McGee added it was their hope that if the U.S. would say Levinson worked for the CIA, the admission might be enough of a show of good faith that the Iranians would respond.
Levinson has had no direct contact with his family since his capture in March 2007. In 2010, documents detailing Levinson’s “arrest and detention in Iran” were anonymously emailed to his wife, who later received pictures and a short videotape.
The video sparked hope he’d soon be released.
“Leads were followed up, and investigations were made, but we have not gotten any new information about Bob,” Christine Levinson says, noting there were no further videos or photos from Iran.
Intelligence sources agree Levinson is likely alive and still in Iran — but for now, still out of reach.
How is Iran reacting to Levinson CIA revelation?
Iran’s English-language state broadcaster reported on Robert Levinson, but said what the Iranian government has been saying all along: that Iran …
“I love my husband,” Christine Levinson says. “I believe that wherever he is, he is trying as hard as he can to get back to his family.”
In response to Christine Levinson’s comments, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement:
“Since Bob Levinson disappeared, the U.S. government has vigorously pursued and continues to pursue all investigative leads. President Obama raised Bob’s case in his phone call with President Rouhani in September, and Secretary Kerry has also raised Bob’s case directly with Iran’s foreign minister. We continue to be focused on doing everything we can to bring Bob home safely to his family. This remains a top priority of the U.S. government. We reiterate our request to the Government of Iran to work cooperatively with us to ensure that Bob returns safely to his family.”
Several members of our family met today with FBI Director Comey in Washington, DC, as we continue to call on the US government to fulfill its moral obligation to Robert Levinson. We thank Director Comey for his personal commitment to do everything in his power to bring Bob home.
We also have requested new meetings with Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama. We are waiting to hear from them.
There have been some new media reports regarding Bob’s trip to Kish Island, Iran, where he was kidnapped in March 2007, that also question the U.S. Government’s efforts to find him. Here is a statement from our family in response to those reports.
Bob is a courageous man who has dedicated himself, including risking his own life, in service to the U.S. government. But the U.S. government has failed to make saving this good man’s life the priority it should be. There are those in the U.S. government who have done their duty in their efforts to find Bob, but there are those who have not. It is time for the U.S. government to step up and take care of one of its own. After nearly 7 years, our family should not be struggling to get through each day without this wonderful, caring, man that we love so much.
Statement by the Press Secretary Regarding Robert Levinson
On March 9, 2007, American citizen and retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran. Today, Mr. Levinson becomes one of the longest held Americans in history.
As we approach the upcoming holiday season, we reiterate the commitment of the United States Government to locate Mr. Levinson and bring him home safely to his family, friends, and loved ones. We welcome the assistance of our international partners in this investigation, and we respectfully ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist us in securing Mr. Levinson’s health, welfare, and safe return.
Uncredited/AP – This undated handout photo provided by the family of Robert Levinson, shows retired-FBI agent Robert Levinson who went missing on the Iranian island of Kish in March 2007 and Levinson’s family received these photographs of him in April 2011.
By Dan Levinson, Published: November 25
Dan Levinson is the eldest son of Robert and Christine Levinson. Their family runs the Web site HelpBobLevinson.com.
On Tuesday, my father, Robert Levinson, becomes the longest-held hostage in U.S. history. Sadly, his 6 years 8 months in captivity surpasses the 2,454 days that Terry Anderson, the former Associated Press bureau chief in Beirut, was held from his family.
My father was last seen March 9, 2007, on Kish Island, Iran, but he is not a missing person. Our family received a hostage video three years ago and photographs in 2011. In the video — in which he appears frail and visibly thinner than the 220 pounds he weighed when he was taken — my dad pleads for the U.S. government to help secure his release. In the photos, which were e-mailed to us, he is shackled. He has an unkempt beard and holds cryptic messages, the intended meaning of which we still do not understand.
What we do understand is that the Iranian government takes great pride in its security efforts. We respectfully request that the Rouhani administration help us find my father.
Our family was given hope with Hassan Rouhani’s election as Iran’s president and Javad Zarif’s appointment as foreign minister. We believe that Rouhani and Zarif, who was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations when my father was taken, are well-respected men committed to the goodwill of all human beings, regardless of their nationality. We were heartened in September when Rouhani told CNN: “We are willing to help, and all the intelligence services in the region can come together to gather information about him to find his whereabouts. And we’re willing to cooperate on that.”It’s not possible to overstate the nightmare that the past 6 years 8 months have been since my father, a retired FBI agent, disappeared while on a private business trip. My mother, four sisters, two brothers and I have tried to continue with our lives, but the situation weighs on us every day. My father has missed so many ordinary things, but he has also missed many family milestones, most recently the birth of my nephew last month. My father has missed every day of my niece’s life, and she is nearly 5. He has missed all but five months of his first grandson’s life. Another grandson is expected in February.
This is not how it was supposed to be. My father is 65, my mother 63. These are the years when my parents were supposed to be enjoying the fruits of their labor. They should be taking vacations and visiting their grandchildren. Instead, my mother is constantly on the phone with U.S. officials and pleading with the Iranian government to help us.
Two months ago, President Obama and President Rouhani spoke by phone — the first contact between the two countries’ leaders in 34 years. During the call, Obama mentioned his concern regarding my father’s situation and the importance of seeing him returned to our family. We are grateful for Obama’s efforts and hope that Rouhani will follow up on his request.
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. 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.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 26, 2013, will mark an unimaginable milestone for my husband, Robert Levinson, who disappeared while visiting Kish Island, Iran, on March 9, 2007. On this day, Bob will become the longest-held American hostage, surpassing Terry Anderson who was held captive for 2,454 days.
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. Yet, as we endure this terrible nightmare from which we can not wake, we know that we must bear it for Bob, the most extraordinary man we have ever known.
To whoever is holding Bob, I ask again for your mercy. Please let him go to reunite with his family.
Bob, if somehow you see or hear these words: Stay strong. You have a new grandson, just a month old. We can’t wait for you to meet him. We love you and will never stop working to bring you home safely.