U.S. formally blames Iran for abduction, presumed death of former FBI agent Levinson

Levinson disappeared in Iran more than a decade ago

Updated: December 14, 2020 - 8:45pm

The United States for the first time on Monday formally blamed Iran for the presumed death of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson. The Trump administration identified two Iranian intelligence agents who are believed to be responsible for Levinson's abduction.

The former FBI-agent disappeared under mysterious circumstances in March of 2007. Though members of the U.S. government have long speculated their belief that he was taken by members of Iranian intelligence forces, the administration offered the most formal assignment of responsibility to date.

U.S. officials revealed about nine months ago that they concluded Levinson "may have passed some time ago," though no further details have been made available. 

According to a report from the Associated Press in 2013, Levinson disappeared while carrying out a mission, on which he had been sent by a group of CIA analysts, who, according to the report, had no authority to be running.

Levinson's family received a video and proof-of-life photographs in 2010 and 2011, in which Levinson appeared disheveled with an overgrown beard and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.

A statement from the White House Press Secretary on the announcement read, "Today, the Department of the Treasury announced designations on two individuals from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security for their direct involvement in the abduction, detention, and probable death of Robert Levinson.  It is clear that not only were senior Iranian officials responsible for Mr. Levinson’s disappearance, but that they took deliberate actions to obscure their involvement through an extensive disinformation campaign."

"Since the beginning of this Administration, President Trump has made it clear that Iran will be held accountable for its use of detention and hostage taking as a tool of “diplomacy” and that the United States will no longer accept Iranian excuses for what we know they have done to Mr. Levinson," continued the statement.