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Tag: Robert Levinson

How the Disappearance of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Factors into Alleged Extortion Plot Involving Rep. Gaetz

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

The search for former FBI Agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran 14 years ago, appears to be at the center of an alleged extortion scheme involving a former federal prosecutor and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

The information came to light earlier this week when The New York Times reported that Gaetz is under investigation for a sexual relationship he allegedly had with a 17-year-old girl.

In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday, Gaetz claimed former prosecutor David L. McGee, who has been searching for Levinson on behalf of his family, offered to make sex trafficking charges disappear in exchange for money to help in the search for the former FBI agent.

McGee denied wrongdoing, telling the Daily Beast that the extortion allegations are “completely, totally false,” adding, “This is a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underage girls.”

The whereabouts and fate of Levinson have been speculated about for years. On the 14th anniversary of his disappearance last month, the Biden administration called on Iran to return Levinson to his family and provide answers about what happened to him. 

Levinson, who would be 73, disappeared while on Kish Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. He worked part-time for the CIA, and U.S. officials believed he died while in Iranian custody. 

He was last seen in a 2010 hostage video. 

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Intelligence Officials in Probable Death of Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

For the first time, the Trump administration has officially blamed two Iranian intelligence officials for the abduction, detention and probable death of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, whose 2007 disappearance has been a mystery. 

The administration imposed sanctions on the two high-ranking officers of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Mohammad Baseri and Ahmad Khazai, The USA Today reports.

“No family should ever endure the pain the Levinson family has for nearly 14 years,” the White House said in a statement. “Iran is responsible and can end this nightmare by answering questions for which only they hold the answers. Any future talks with Iran must include resolution to this case.”

The Levinson family said the administration’s actions were “one step in a long road toward achieving justice.”

“Robert Levinson will never come home to his family alive because of the cruel, cynical and inhumane actions of the Iranian authorities,” the family said in a statement. “Because of these men and others like them, our wonderful husband, father and grandfather died alone, thousands of miles from everyone he loved.

“No matter how long it takes, we will find the individuals who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, and we will hold them accountable.” 

U.S. officials believe Levinson, who would be 72 if he was still alive, was likely killed while in Iranian custody after disappearing from the island of Kish, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. It’s believed Levinson was on a CIA operation at the time.

The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.  

Family of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Gives Up Hope He’s Still Alive

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After years of urging the Iranian government to release Robert Levinson, the family of the retired FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, has given up hope that he’s still alive.

“Today, with aching hearts, we are sharing devastating news about Robert Levinson, the head of our family,” the family said in a statement on a website dedicated to freeing Levinson. “We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.  We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is impossible to describe our pain. Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man we have ever known, a new reality that is inconceivable to us.  His grandchildren will never meet him. They will only know him through the stories we tell them.”

Previously, media outlets had reported that Levinson, who had retired from the FBI, had gone to Iran on an unauthorized mission for the CIA.

For a long time, the FBI had not given up hope of freeing Levinson, and the family up until now, held out hope as well.

“If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today,” the family wrote. “It has been 13 years waiting for answers.  Thirteen years since we last saw him or had any contact with him. How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands.”

 Brian O’Hare, president of the FBI Agents Association issued a statement Wednesday:

“The FBI Agents Association, representing more than 14,000 active and former FBI Special Agents, sends its deepest sympathies to the family of former FBI Agent Robert Levinson.  The courage that the Levinson family showed over the past 13 years in their continued efforts to raise awareness about Bob’s disappearance and to bring him home has been an inspiration to all, including his former colleagues at the FBI.

We will not forget Bob and will support all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this horrific crime.  We continue to stand with the Levinson family during this difficult time.”

National Security Investigative Producer  James Meek of ABC News, who reported on the latest development,  posted on Facebook:

“I’m sorry to say I have covered this case for 13 years. Today, it came to an end as retired FBI agent Bob Levinson’s family announced they now believe he died sometime ago as a hostage in Iran. They were told in a recent government briefing, and after years and years of fighting to bring him home, testifying in Congress, confronting Tehran’s diplomats at the United Nations, and never giving up on him, they have grudgingly accepted his fate. A very sad day.”

 

FBI Calls on Iran to Release Robert Levinson on 13th Anniversary of Disappearance

Robert Levinson, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is calling on Iran to release former FBI Agent Robert A. Levinson on the 13th anniversary of his disappearance in 2007.

Calling him the “longest-held hostage in U.S. history,” the FBI issued a statement Tuesday renewing its repeated call on Iran to live up to its commitment to share information about Levinson’s whereabouts.

“Bob’s wife and family have been waiting for his return for 13 years, waiting for the government of Iran to make good on its commitment to help make that happen,” FBI Director Christopher Wray says in a new release. “Over those years Bob’s FBI family of agents, analysts, and professional staff have been working on his behalf with our interagency partners and will never cease the efforts to bring Bob home. We call on Iran to provide the necessary assistance and end this long wait so Bob’s family and friends get him back.”

Levinson, whose 72nd birthday is today, disappeared while on a CIA operation on Kish Island in Iran.

The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.

Some intelligence officials believe Levinson may be dead, but that hasn’t stopped the search.

The Department of State Rewards for Justice Program announced up to a $30 million reward last year for any information leading to Levinson’s whereabouts. The FBI is also offering a $5 million reward.

Iran Says Disappearance of Robert Levinson Is an Ongoing ‘Missing Person’ Case

Robert Levinson

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The family of Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, expressed some relief after the Iranian government changed its tone on his disappearance.

The government of Iran acknowledged for the first time that the disappearance is an ongoing “missing person” case.

Levinson “has no judicial or criminal case in any Islamic Republic of Iran court whatsoever,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told reporters, The Associated Press reports.

President Trump said Iran’s acknowledgment was “a very positive step.”

“If Iran is able to turn over to the U.S. kidnapped former FBI Agent Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for 12 years, it would be a very positive step,” President Trump tweeted Sunday night.

The State Department last week offered up to a $20 million reward for information leading to the safe return of Levinson, who is believed to have been abducted on March 9, 2007.

Does Robert Mueller Have A Conflict of Interest With The Russian Probe and an Oligarch?

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Life is complicated.

In 2009, when Robert S. Mueller III ran the FBI, the bureau asked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to spend millions of his own dollars funding an FBI-supervised operation to rescue a retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, captured in Iran while working for the CIA in 2007.

John Solomon writes in The Hill that’s  the same Deripaska who has surfaced in Mueller’s current investigation and who was recently sanctioned by the Trump administration.

The Levinson mission is confirmed by more than a dozen participants inside and outside the FBI, including Deripaska, his lawyer, the Levinson family and a retired agent who supervised the case, Solomon writes.

 

Hunt Continues for Missing FBI Agent Levinson 11 Years After Disappearance in Iran

Robert Levinson

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It has been 11 years since former FBI agent Robert Levinson was last seen alive.

Levinson, who would have turned 70 years old on Saturday, disappeared while on a CIA operation on Kish Island in Iran.

The Iranian government initially responded that it had detained Levinson but soon backed off that story and has since maintained it has no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.

“This is something the FBI has never forgotten. His fellow agents have never forgotten Bob,” Tom O’Connor, the head of the FBI Agents Association, told WTOP. “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.”

The FBI has not given up. O’Connor said.

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

Some intelligence officials believe Levinson may be dead, but that hasn’t stopped the search.

“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.”

In his experience, O’Connor said he’s not giving up hope.

“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.”

FBI Denies AP Report About Missing Ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI issued a statement Saturday contesting a report by the Associated Press on Thursday,  which cited an anonymous U.S. official as saying many U.S. government officials believe ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson is no longer alive.

“This characterization is not accurate and diminishes the U.S. government’s resolve to safely return Robert (Bob) Levinson home to his family,” the FBI said in a statement. “Bob disappeared from Kish Island, Iran on March 9, 2007. In 2010, a video showing him in captivity was sent to the Levinson family by his captors. As Bob was taken inside Iran, the U.S. government continues to reiterate its call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to locate Mr. Levinson and return him home to his family.”