About the Author: Carlos A. DeJuana is on a Presidential Management Fellow rotation at the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs.
July 20 marked the 500th day since Robert "Bob" Levinson went missing in Iran. The Florida native and father of seven disappeared on March 9, 2007, while visiting Iran's Kish Island. Levinson, a retired FBI agent, was investigating cigarette counterfeiting for a private company when his family lost contact with him.
According to Bob's son, Daniel, the last man who saw Levinson said security officials on Kish Island had detained him. Weeks later, the Iranian government's Press TV also reported that Levinson was in the hands of Iranian security forces. However, to date, the Iranian government has said little else about the case.
Daniel and his mother Christine -- Bob's wife -- traveled to Iran in December last year in search of information. The Iranian government said it was investigating and promised to report back. They have yet to do so.
On July 14, 2008, Bob's wife Christine met with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns to discuss her husband's case. Although the investigation is being led by the FBI, the State Department has advocated on the family's behalf and assisted with the family's trip to Iran in December.
The State Department has urged Tehran to share any information it has on the case. We have also reached out to allies who can press the issue with Iranian officials. Because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, we work with the Swiss Embassy in Tehran to advocate on behalf of issues concerning U.S. citizens.
The State Department remains committed to determining the whereabouts and welfare of Robert Levinson, and returning him home to his family. Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental mission of the State Department.
After her meeting with Under Secretary Burns, Christine Levinson also announced she hoped to return to Tehran in the coming weeks to follow up on the case with Iranian authorities.
"They said their religion requires them to help all people and they would continue to investigate," she said after the meeting, according to Reuters.
"That was over seven months ago and we still have not heard anything."
It is deeply frustrating that after 16 months we do not have definitive information about Bob's welfare and whereabouts. This case is ultimately a humanitarian one. Bob Levinson is the father of seven children and grandfather of one, with another grandchild on the way. His family misses him desperately.
Video Interviews With Christine LevinsonInterview With Voice of AmericaInterview With WTOP Radio National Security Correspondent JJ GreenYouTube: Help Bob LevinsonMore information on Robert Levinson or if you have information that can help the family.
We'd all like to see him come home soon.