Yellow Ribbon Project

What About Bob? Congress Pushes for Return of Longest-Held U.S. Hostage

The House today passed a resolution from the congressman of Robert Levinson, the longest-held hostage in U.S. history, calling for Iran to cooperate in bringing the former FBI agent home.

Levinson went missing off the coast of Iran in March 2007 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.

“For the families of the four American prisoners released by Iran earlier this year, the nightmare is finally over. But it is not over for my constituents, the Levinson family,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said during debate on the bill. “Bob Levinson is a patriot who loves this country dearly and devoted his life to public service. It is now time for this country to come through for Bob, and do everything in our power to bring him home.”

The Levinson family was devastated when he was not part of the prisoner swap that brought home five other Americans: Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, and Matthew Trevithick.

Deutch encouraged people to keep bringing attention to Levinson’s case by tweeting the hashtag #WhatAboutBob.

“For those in South Florida, I encourage you to come support the Levinson family this Saturday in Coral Springs,” he added. “We must keep talking about Bob. We must raise the level of awareness around Bob’s case. We must encourage our government – and the governments of our friends and allies – to continue to work tirelessly to find Bob and to bring him home.”

The event at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts begins at 2 p.m. on March 5. Deutch will speak at the rally.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said after passage of the resolution that the Obama administration “must do more to bring him home.”

“In testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Levinson’s son highlighted the importance of maintaining a public focus on his father’s case,” Royce said. “He argued that we need continued action to keep his father’s fate at the forefront. Frankly, it is hard to remember a time when Iran didn’t have U.S. hostages in its prisons.”

The FBI is offering a $5 million reward “for information leading directly to the location and return” of Levinson.

Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee last week. Deutch urged him to press forward with “the greatest sense of commitment” to “bring Bob home to his family.”

“I understand completely, I just met with the family recently and I completely understand tension, the feelings and the disappointment that they feel. They see people come back and Bob is not among them,” Kerry said. “And they don’t have answers yet, but we have put a process in place as part of the actual agreement that we reached, whereby he is very much front and center in terms of our following through to trace every lead there is and to be personally engaged.”

“I don’t want to go into greater detail, but I shared with the family some of the things that we planned to do, we will in fact, we are doing them.”