Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that the United States had not abandoned former FBI agent Robert Levinson — the 65-year-old American who seven years ago went missing in Iran — and said he was personally involved in the effort to track him.
This week, Levinson’s family claimed he was involved in a rogue CIA operation when he disappeared and accused the US government of betraying him.The shocking fact that Levinson was a CIA operative came despite years of repeated denials from the White House, the State Department and the intelligence community.
For eight crucial months after Levinson’s disappearance, top CIA brass claim they didn’t even know that the retired FBI agent was working for them – that led to public denials that he had vanished while in the service of the US Government.
Meanwhile, Levinson’s trail has grown cold. He has not been seen or heard from since his captors sent a series of distressing pictures to his family in December 2010. Top intelligence officials fear that the 65-year-old father of seven is dead.
The FBI’s hunt for Levinson has led them into Afghanistan and Pakistan – and back to Iran. However, two Iranian presidents – including recently-elected moderate Hassan Rouhani – have denied having any involvement in his kidnapping or knowing where he is.
Levinson was gathering information on corruption in the Islamic republic and reporting to Anne Jablonski, a top-ranking CIA analyst.
A CIA investigation found that she did not tell her bosses that she had been paying him to go into the field.
Jablonski, who was later forced to resign after a lengthy CIA inquiry, never came forward with the information that he had been working in the field for her, according to the AP. She denies knowing that he was headed to Iran to develop contacts for the CIA – despite a chain of emails in which he talked about a possible trip to the Islamic republic.
Jablonski, a newly become yoga instructor who blogs about finding inner peace, denies any wrongdoing.
“There hasn’t been progress in the sense that we don’t have him back. But to suggest that we have abandoned him or anybody has abandoned him is simply incorrect and not helpful,” Kerry said.
“The fact is, that I have personally raised the issue not only at the highest level that I have been involved with, but also through other intermediaries. So we don’t have any meeting with anybody who has something to do with Iran or an approach to Iran where we don’t talk to them about how we might be able to find not just Levinson, but we have two other Americans that we’re deeply concerned about,” he said.
Kerry, who seemed to outline a huge effort to track Levinson without providing any specific details, would not say if the Iranian government was complicit in his disappearance, but did express hope that the regime could help resolve the situation and he hoped they would.
“We’re looking for proof of life. We’re working on several processes that I’m not free to talk about. But there are a number of different channels that are being worked aggressively,” Kerry said.
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