Yellow Ribbon Project

Longest-Held U.S. Hostage's Son: 'On a Daily Level He Has Been Living Through Hell'


A son of the longest-held U.S. hostage in history reached out to his dad and appealed for his release in a Father’s Day message.

Former FBI agent Bob Levinson went missing off the coast of Iran eight years ago while working as a private investigator. Levinson’s family later received images of him in captivity, though the Iranian government has maintained they don’t know who is holding him.

Today marks the 3,028th day he’s been gone.

David Levinson wrote of how his father showed up at his dorm 10 years ago when he was a depressed college freshman. “He might as well have been wearing a Superman cape,” David Levinson wrote in a CNN op-ed.

Then, a little over a year later, his father disappeared:

Although we haven’t been able to speak to him since March of 2007, we have been a witness to his suffering. Several years ago, we received a video of him, looking broken and beaten, pleading for help from the United States government.

Less than a year later, we received photos of him in an orange jumpsuit, holding up messages mocking our helpless attempts to return him home. When I first saw these photos, I realized how unrecognizable my father had become; that same confident, smiling man who I shared lunch with that day 10 years ago had been transformed completely. It was clear that on a daily level, he has been living through hell.

Bob Levinson has already missed the opportunity to walk two of his daughters down the aisle, and David Levinson is soon becoming the first of the former FBI agent’s three sons to get married.

“I believe in my father, and I know how determined he is to get home. There is no doubt in my mind that one day he will succeed, that one day we will see each other again and he will meet my future wife. She is hopeful for that day as well, and longs to meet the man I am constantly trying to emulate each day,” David Levinson wrote.

David’s brother Daniel Levinson testified this month before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“This is a great hearing, but in a few days people may forget about it — they’ll likely forget about it — and then we’re back to where we were,” Daniel Levinson said.

The Florida family worries that “regardless of the outcome of the deal” there may not be “a sense of urgency to get any of the loved ones home.”

Then, Daniel Levinson noted, they’re “back to square one.”