Robert Levinson was kidnapped in Iran in 2007. Photo courtesy FBI.
This article was originally published March 9, 2021, by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The United States is calling on the Iranian government to provide “credible answers” to what happened to a former FBI agent who was “abducted” while traveling in Iran in 2007.
“The United States will never forget Bob Levinson,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a March 9 statement marking the 14th anniversary of his disappearance.
Blinken also called on Iran to “immediately and safely release” all U.S. nationals “unjustly held captive” in the country, saying: “The abhorrent act of unjust detentions for political gain must cease immediately.”
Levinson, who was born in March 1948, disappeared when he traveled to the Iranian Kish Island resort in March 2007. He was reportedly working for the CIA as a contractor at the time.
The United States has repeatedly called on Iran to help locate Levinson and bring him home, but Iranian officials said they have no information about his fate.
However, when he disappeared, an Iranian government-linked media outlet broadcast a story saying he was “in the hands of Iranian security forces.”
In December 2020, the previous U.S. administration imposed sanctions on two Iranian intelligence agents believed to be “involved in the abduction, detention, and probable death” of the former agent.
Separately, the United States on March 9 blacklisted two officials with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) accused of involvement in “gross” violations of human rights committed during 2019 and 2020 protests in Iran.
IRGC interrogators Ali Hemmatian and Masud Safdari and their immediate family members are now ineligible for entry into the United States, Blinken said in a statement, adding that the two men were involved in “the torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDTP) of political prisoners and persons detained” during the protests.
The United States “will continue to consider all appropriate tools to impose costs on those responsible for human rights violations and abuses in Iran,” he said.
There was no immediate comment from Iranian authorities.
Copyright (c)2020 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
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