A former FBI agent and 64-year-old father of seven, Levinson was working as a private detective on a cigarette smuggling case on Kish Island, an Iranian resort port in the Persian Gulf with looser entrance requirements. He disappeared in March 2007, and his wife made subsequent trips to Iran to try to find out any information. A hostage video of Levinson was sent to the family in late 2010, and in April 2011 they received photos of him. They only released the photos on Jan. 8, though, out of frustration that not enough is being done. “There isn’t any pressure on Iran to resolve this,” Robert’s wife, Christine, said in turning the photos over to the Associated Press. “It’s been much too long.”
Washington has admitted they believe the government of Iran knows more than it claims, and even tried some PR antics in 2011 to deflect blame from Tehran in hopes that the regime would free him. In August, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland released a statement marking Levinson’s 2,000th day in captivity.
“The United States reiterates its call on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to provide any information on Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts and to help ensure his prompt and safe return to his family,” Nuland said. “Determining Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts and reuniting him safely with his family continues to be a priority for the U.S. Government. The United States also continues to welcome the assistance of our international partners in this investigation.”
Just last year, the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information on Levinson’s whereabouts.
Just before Christmas, the family was resigned to start a White House petition in an effort to cross the threshold needed for an administration response.
“It is the government’s job to protect the lives of all US citizens; rescuing Levinson should be top priority right now for our country. He is greatly missed by his family and friends. Iran has been uncooperative and blocked investigations. We the people of the US wish to bring this man home no matter what it takes,” the petition stated.
The White House link now says the petition is expired because it failed to gain enough signatures — yes, even though an administration official responded to the petition to build a Death Star.