White House believes Levinson is no longer in Iran

January 19, 2016  

The White House has “reason to believe” that missing former FBI agent Robert Levinson is “no longer in Iran”, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday, according to ABC News.

According to the network, Earnest said the White House had mentioned that belief “several years ago.”

Levinson, 68, a father of seven from Coral Springs, Florida, vanished during a trip to Iran in 2007, disappearing on Kish Island off Iran’s coast. His family has acknowledged that he had been working for the CIA in a rogue operation.

He was not included in Saturday’s breakthrough prisoner swap between Iran and the U.S., which saw four American citizens freed in return for the release of seven Iranians jailed in the United States.

Levinson’s family later said they were “devastated” to learn that he was “left behind” and not included in the deal.

Iranian officials said during the prisoner negotiations, as Iran has insisted for years, that they do not know where Levinson is being held – a claim doubted by some U.S. officials and Levinson’s family, noted ABC News.

The family was sent “proof of life” videos and photos a few years into his captivity but they have not heard from him since. The photos, released by the family to media outlets in 2013, show Levinson dressed in an orange jumpsuit, draped in chains and holding a series of signs, one that said, “I Am Here in Guantanamo Do You Know Where It Is?”

The last known man to see Levinson alive in Iran has claimed that Levinson was definitely detained by Iranian authorities and is almost certainly still in Iranian custody if he remains alive.

Despite Earnest’s comments on Tuesday, it was not widely known that the White House believed Levinson was not in Iran, noted ABC News.

Secretary Kerry tweeted Sunday that as part of the swap, “Iran also agreed to deepen our coordination as we work to locate Robert Levinson. We won’t rest until the Levinson family is whole again.”

President Barack Obama made similar comments on the issue, saying  that the United States and Iran would “deepen cooperation” in the efforts to locate Levinson.

Earnest reiterated in his comments on Tuesday that the White House is “determined… to press the Iranians to provide as much information as they have about Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts and we’re going to continue to do that through the channel that has been opened.”

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