Trump calls on Tehran to turn over for­mer FBI agent miss­ing in Iran for the past 12 years

▶ In a fil­ing to the UN, Ira­nian of­fi­cials ad­mit a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Court has a ‘miss­ing per­son’ case on Robert Levin­son

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US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is urg­ing Iran to “turn over” a for­mer FBI agent kid­napped in the coun­try 12 years ago.

The US is of­fer­ing $25 mil­lion (Dh91.8m) for in­for­ma­tion on Robert Levin­son, who dis­ap­peared on an unau­tho­rised CIA mis­sion from Iran’s Kish Is­land on March 9, 2007.

“If Iran is able to turn over to the US kid­napped for­mer FBI Agent Robert A Levin­son, who has been miss­ing in Iran for 12 years, it would be a very pos­i­tive step,” Mr Trump tweeted yes­ter­day morn­ing.

His re­quest came the day after Iran said an open Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Court case in­volv­ing Mr Levin­son “was a miss­ing per­son” fil­ing, not a sign that the man was be­ing pros­e­cuted.

For­eign Min­istry spokesman Ab­bas Mousavi said Mr Levin­son “has no ju­di­cial or crim­i­nal case in any Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran court what­so­ever”.

“It is nor­mal that a case is opened like it’s done for any miss­ing peo­ple any­where in Iran,” Mr Mousavi said. How­ever,

Iran ac­knowl­edged only that its Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Court had an open case on Levin­son in a fil­ing to the United Na­tions. AP ob­tained a copy of a UN re­port of the ac­knowl­edge­ment on Satur­day.

Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Court typ­i­cally han­dles es­pi­onage cases and oth­ers in­volv­ing smug­gling, blas­phemy and at­tempts to over­throw its Is­lamic gov­ern­ment. Western­ers and Ira­nian dual cit­i­zens with ties to the West of­ten find them­selves tried and con­victed in closed-door tri­als in these courts, later to be used as bar­gain­ing chips in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

For years, US of­fi­cials would only say that Mr Levin­son, a metic­u­lous FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tor cred­ited with bust­ing Rus­sian and Ital­ian mob­sters, was work­ing for a pri­vate com­pany on his trip.

In De­cem­ber 2013, Mr Levin­son had been on a mis­sion for CIA an­a­lysts who had no au­thor­ity to run spy op­er­a­tions. Mr Levin­son’s fam­ily had re­ceived a $2.5m an­nu­ity from the CIA to stop a law­suit re­veal­ing de­tails of his work, while the agency forced out three vet­eran an­a­lysts and dis­ci­plined seven oth­ers.

Since his dis­ap­pear­ance, the only pho­tos and video of Mr Levin­son emerged in 2010 and 2011.

He ap­peared gaunt and bearded with long hair, and was wear­ing an or­ange jump­suit sim­i­lar to those worn by de­tainees at the US prison at Guan­tanamo Bay.

Iran for years has of­fered con­tra­dic­tory state­ments about Mr Levin­son.

His fam­ily is now su­ing Iran in a US fed­eral court, al­leg­ing the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment kid­napped him.

A se­nior State Depart­ment of­fi­cial said the US had not been in­formed of any change in that po­si­tion.

How­ever, the of­fi­cial said Wash­ing­ton had “through in­ter­me­di­aries” ap­proached Iran to see if the state­ment rep­re­sented a change in Tehran’s stance. The of­fi­cial said there had not yet been a re­sponse to the US in­quiry.

AFP

An FBI photo of for­mer agent Robert Levin­son who went miss­ing in 2007

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