The Trump administration imposed sanctions Monday on two Iranian intelligence officers for what the U.S. said was their involvement in “the detention, abduction and probable death” of American Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran 13 years ago.
“It is clear that not only were senior Iranian officials responsible for Mr. Levinson’s disappearance, but that they took deliberate actions to obscure their involvement through an extensive disinformation campaign,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Mr. Levinson, a former FBI agent who would be 72 years old, disappeared off Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007 while on an unauthorized mission for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Treasury Department announced it has frozen any U.S. assets of Mohammad Baseri and Ahmad Khazai, who are described as senior Iranian intelligence officers.
The department said both men “were involved in the abduction, detention, and probable death of Mr. Levinson.”
“The abduction of Mr. Levinson in Iran is an outrageous example of the Iranian regime’s willingness to commit unjust acts,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States will always prioritize the safety and security of the American people and will continue to aggressively pursue those who played a role in Mr. Levinson’s detention and probable death.”
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said Iran “pledged to provide assistance in bringing Bob Levinson home, but it has never followed through.”
“The truth is that Iranian intelligence officers — with the approval of senior Iranian officials — were involved in Bob’s abduction and detention,” Mr. Wray said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Tehran to give a full accounting of what happened to Mr. Levinson.
“The Iranian regime has a 41-year history of abducting and detaining foreigners and dual-nationals as political leverage,” Mr. Pompeo said. “We reiterate our strong warning to U.S. citizens and dual-nationals that traveling to Iran may jeopardize their personal safety. The abduction, detention, and probable death of Mr. Levinson is another egregious example of the regime’s callous disregard toward human life. We will not rest until all Americans wrongfully detained by Iran are back home. We hope today brings the Levinson family some of the answers and justice they deserve.”