FBI remembers former agent 11 years after disappearance in Iran

WASHINGTON — The FBI remembered a solemn anniversary last Friday: the 11th observance of the day former FBI agent Robert Levinson was last seen alive in Iran.

Saturday was Levinson’s 70th birthday.

Levinson was taken from Kish Island in Iran while working on a CIA operation. The Iranian government initially announced his detainment, then quickly denied knowing what happened to Levinson.

“This is something the FBI has never forgotten. His fellow agents have never forgotten Bob,” said Tom O’Connor, the head of the FBI Agents Association. “The FBI Agents Association stands with his family and with the FBI in the efforts that everyone is making to reunite Bob with his family.”

O’Connor said the investigation is ongoing.

“There are people that are dedicated to working nothing but the Bob Levinson kidnapping case,” he said.

Levinson’s family was sent pictures and videos of Levinson in the years after his disappearance, but none have been made public. Last year, his family filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, alleging hostage-taking and torture.

Some U.S. government agencies say it’s possible that Levinson died in captivity, but there’s continued hope he’ll be found.

“By remembering these solemn anniversaries — 11 years is a long time — we hope that somebody will come forward with information. There’s a reward out there, $5 million, for the return of Bob Levinson to his family,” O’Connor said.

“Representatives of the Government of Iran and the United States agreed to cooperate in sharing information which would lead to Mr. Levinson’s return,” the FBI said in a statement on Friday. “The FBI calls on the government of Iran to uphold this commitment so that Mr. Levinson and his family can be reunited.”

O’Connor said there’s no reason to think that won’t happen someday.

“I’ve worked on hostage cases in the past where someone was held in Iraq for 311 days, and it just was one piece of information that broke and he was reunited with his family,” he said. “People didn’t think that was going to happen and it did, so never give up hope.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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