The family of a Jewish-American man who disappeared from Iran in 2007 while working on behalf of the CIA is suing the Iranian government in the United States.
Robert Levinson, 68, of Coral Springs, Florida, a private investigator and former agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who was also a part-time consultant for the Central Intelligence Agency, has been missing since disappearing from Iran’s Kish Island during what has since been revealed as a rogue CIA operation.
Levinson’s family filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court in Washington DC, the New York Times reported. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Iran, in part for inflicting emotional distress on Levinson’s wife and seven children.
In an announcement earlier in March on the 10th anniversary of Levinson’s disappearance, a statement from the FBI said that the agency has a dedicated team seeking Levinson’s return. The statement was unusual since, over the years, the State Department and the White House have noted the anniversary, but the FBI has not weighed in.
Under President Barack Obama, five Americans were released by Iran in January 2016 in an exchange timed to coincide with the implementation of the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six major powers. Levinson was not one of those released, but the Obama administration, which had brokered the deal, accepted an Iranian pledge to help track his whereabouts. The information Iran provided led to dead ends, the Times reported Sunday.
Some American officials believe that Levinson died in captivity, or that he is no longer being held in Iran.
Earlier in March, US President Donald Trump said bringing Levinson back was "top priority."
"We want him back, and we will spare no effort to achieve that goal," the administration said in a statement.
There is an outstanding $5 million reward for information leading to Levinson’s return.