Last Seen in Iran: Robert Levinson

August 1, 2008
Robert Levinson Last Seen in Iran

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.

News Reports About the Trip and Current Status of the CaseIn Iran, Search for American Yields Little [NYT]
Missing a Father in Iran [WP]

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.



United States
August 2, 2008

Bruce in the U.S.A. writes:

This case is really messed up. Iran has to know something ...some form of information. I hope he is found. Interestingly, I have not heard this case mentioned on the news ...really sad situation.

New York, USA
August 2, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

A private company hired "Bob" to investigate cigarette counterfeiting. What security arrangements were made for "Bob" by the company?

August 4, 2008

Wang in China writes:

I think everything has it's reason. There is not exist missing without reasons!

Tennessee, USA
August 4, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Unfortunately, as a past Federal Agent he is not considered to be outside the circle by Iran.

I would presume the same negotiations used in the Cold War era will be used by the US as the kidnapping of a Federal Agent, past, retired or otherwise is a violation of both our National Federal Statues and International agreements, regardless of whom he was presumed working for at the time.

Mr. Levinson was employed by the U.S. Department of Justice for 28 years, serving for six years as a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in its New York and Denver field offices and also at DEA Headquarters. Subsequently, Mr. Levinson transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and served that agency as a Special Agent in Los Angeles, New York and Miami. .......He served as a representative of the U.S. on a number of international organized crime task forces attacking such problems as the Colombian drug cartels and the criminal groups operating in the former Soviet Union.

1. Perhaps this is an indication that Iran is involved strongly in the International Narcotics trade and felt him a threat.

2. The association to Russia and Columbia may also show a new movement to Iran for Narcotics and other illicit activities.

3. Given his background, it would be difficult for anyone to think he is just looking for counterfeit cigarettes for Safir Rosetti. Especially given the fact he was Managing Director. Why would he be in the field?

4. It is poor situation for all concerned. He worked against Organized Crime and counterfeit cigarettes were a major money maker years, I do believe he had a legitimate reason for follow-up and being there; but, you are dealing with suspicious political elements at best.

They have something to bargain with, so I doubt he will be hurt. God bless his family during this time...

Donald M.
Virginia, USA
August 6, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

06 August 08

In the search of Mr. Robert Levinson has the United States (State) Department checked with Russia, and all those European countries? Maybe the State Department should throw out a reward to help find BOB! I read the story, I find it hard to believe that he departed Kish Island without his passport and luggage. Which means the Iranian Officials know more about what happened the morning he was suppose to get on the flight back to UAE! Especially, at the hotel he was staying. Like they don't know anything! I believe that alright! (NOT)

I think Iran needs to fess up and tell the truth about what happened to BOB! I would say to the Iran Government. It would behove you to release Mr. Robert Levinson for the sake of humanity and good will. Show the people in world you have a heart. Show the people of Iran and the world you care about people! Show the United Nations how Iran can be humbled and return an American Human Being back to his lovely family! I will pray this humble pray so he will be returned home safe and sound as soon as possible!


New Mexico, USA
August 12, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Since '79 it has been estimated that some 200,000 have "dissapeared" in Iran, according to those keeping track of the fate of political dissidents.

While this is not a factor in this particular dissaperance, the fate of a Canadian jounalist comes to mind, as one example of the way Iran treats folks to their brand of official hospitality.


Reports on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran published since 1979 by international human rights organizations are gathered in this collection and will gradually be translated into Farsi. In doing so, the library makes available to the Iranian public a juridical reasoning based on the universality of human rights and thus facilitates the understanding of these rights. By browsing this collection, Iranian visitors will realize that during the harsh years of isolation and repression, the injustice and violence endured by this nation was not ignored by the international community and people around the world have been concerned about their rights. What is more, these reports contain important pages of Iran's history, and so should be available to the public. The creation of this collection is also a way for the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation to pay tribute to those jurists and human rights advocates who have worked, researched and published these valuable documents.

-- Amnesty International

-- Human Rights Watch

-- International Commission of Jurists

-- United Nations

-- Reporters Without Borders

-- International Federation of Human Rights

-- Others


Robert Levinson's case is unique but the context is not, and there's a broader human rights issue that becomes relevent thereby.

Luke F.
August 13, 2008

DipNote Blogger Carlos DeJuana writes:

Thought readers might be interested in an update on the Levinson case. Please see the following recent NBC Nightly News story.

August 17, 2008

Meead in Iran writes:

First let me tell you I'm really sorry about this sad happening to Robert Levinson.

I searched in local and state news and I found several contradict news:
1. Robert Levinson is still in Iran and arrested.
2. Iran's government sent Robert to Iraq and gave him to U.S. embassy in Iraq.
3. Robert left Iran to Iraq, but he came back to Iran again.
4. Iran's government has kept Robert to make pressure on U.S. to release arrested Iranian diplomats in Iraq.

In sum, I couldn't find any official report about him. But I'm sure he is okay. I hope he will come back home soon.

Guys, did you hear that recently an American cruise stopped in Kish Island (Iran) for some hours. Local people welcomed them with some music. Visit this link for some photos


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