A former FBI agent who mys­te­ri­ously van­ished in 2007 died in Ira­nian cus­tody, his fam­ily con­cluded Wed­nes­day, say­ing U.S. in­tel­li­gence had made them give up 13 years of hope.

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON (AFP) — A former FBI agent who mys­te­ri­ously van­ished in 2007 died in Ira­nian cus­tody, his fam­ily con­cluded Wed­nes­day, say­ing US in­tel­li­gence had made them give up 13 years of hope.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump did not con­firm Bob Levin­son’s death, say­ing that Iran had not com­mu­ni­cated any news on the former agent, who would have turned 72 this month.

But Levin­son’s fam­ily said that it had learned that he was dead, although it gave no in­for­ma­tion on how or when.

“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,” the fam­ily said in a state­ment.

“We don’t even know when, or even if, his body would be re­turned to us.

This is the very definition of cru­elty.”

The fam­ily said Levin­son died be­fore the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, which has hit Iran hard and led au­thor­i­ties to re­lease thou­sands of pris­on­ers tem­po­rar­ily.

Levin­son is one of a num­ber of Amer­i­cans who have dis­ap­peared in arch-en­emy Iran, but his case has been among the most per­plex­ing, with his fam­ily un­til now in­sist­ing he was alive.

The father of seven van­ished in March 2007 in Kish, an is­land that has more le­nient visa rules than the rest of Iran, and was said to have been in­ves­ti­gat­ing cig­a­rette coun­ter­feit­ing.

But The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported in 2013 that Levin­son, who had re­tired from the FBI, was work­ing for the CIA and had gone on a rogue mis­sion aimed at gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence on Iran.

It said at the time that the CIA paid $2.5 mil­lion to Levin­son’s wife Chris­tine, ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for his dis­ap­pear­ance.

His fam­ily on Wed­nes­day ac­cused Tehran of “re­peat­edly ly­ing to the world” about Levin­son and re­newed crit­i­cism of the ini­tial U.S. re­sponse. Of­fi­cials ini­tially did not clas­sify Levin­son as a hostage and have con­sis­tently de­nied he worked for the govern­ment.

“Those who are re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pened to Bob Levin­son, in­clud­ing those in the U.S. govern­ment who for many years re­peat­edly left him be­hind, will ul­ti­mately re­ceive jus­tice for what they have done,” the fam­ily said.

Bob Levin­son.

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