Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson believed dead in Iranian custody, family says

“It is impossible to describe our pain

Robert Levinson, retired FBI agent, presumed dead in Iranian custody over a decade after disappearance

He was the longest-held hostage in United States history.

The Trump administration says former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran during an unauthorised Central Intelligence Agency mission, died while in Tehran's custody, according to a statement from his family.

The US president added: "I won't accept that he's dead".

At the time of the disclosure, his family said the USA government failed to make his recovery the priority it should have been.

"We recently received information from USA officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian Custody". Nor did they know if Levinson's body would ever be returned to them.

Levinson disappeared on Iran's Persian Gulf island of Kish in March 2007 while working for a group of CIA analysts on an investigation that had not been officially approved by the agency.

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Months after he disappeared, USA government sources acknowledged that before traveling to Kish Island, Levinson had maintained an unorthodox contractual relationship with the analytical branch of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Robert Levinson's family announced the sad news in a statement today.

The family said that USA officials had received information that led the officials to determine that Levinson is likely dead.

"Robert Levinson, who was outstanding, he's been sick for a long time and it's rough...problems prior to his detainment or capture and we feel terribly for the family", stated the president.

"We are going to spend the remainder of our lives ensuring of this, and the Iranian regime should know we is not going to be going away".

The FBI Agents Association, which represents more than 14,000 active and former agents, said it would "not forget Bob and will support all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this horrific crime".

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Iran repeatedly has said it has no information about Levinson, though USA diplomats and investigators have long said they thought he was taken by Iranian government agents.

Levinson, who suffered from diabetes, was last seen in a hostage video sent anonymously to the family in 2010, and then in still photographs three years later in which he was wearing an orange jumpsuit, of the kind used in the U.S. detention camp on Guantánamo Bay.

The footage raised speculation that he may have been held by extremists in Pakistan, but U.S. officials later discounted the possibility.

Another theory of United States officials was that the Iranian government could have routed the images externally in an effort to blame Mr Levinson's disappearance on someone else. "I'm telling you...it's not looking great, but I won't accept that he's dead". "They haven't told us that he's dead, but a lot of people are thinking that that's the case".

Senator Bob Menendez, who employs one of Levinson's sons on his staff, sounded more definitive on his death and vowed to hold Iran accountable.

The death is believed to have occurred before the recent outbreak of the coronavirus that has gravely affected Iran and another countries, according to a statement from Levinson's family. For years, USA officials would say only that Levinson was working independently on a private investigation. Thirteen years since we last saw him or had any contact with him.

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