- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson announced Wednesday that U.S. officials believe he has died in Iranian custody, 13 years after he disappeared on an island off the coast of Iran.

In a statement released on Twitter, the family said that while they do not have details surrounding his presumed death, it is believed Mr. Levinson passed before the widespread coronavirus outbreak that has hit Iran particularly hard.

“It is impossible to describe our pain,” the family said. “Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man, a new reality that is inconceivable to us.”

The family thanked administration officials and a handful of lawmakers who “fought for Bob Levinson in every possible way.”

Condolences from lawmakers poured out Wednesday evening mourning the loss of Mr. Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007 during an unauthorized CIA operation.

“I am incredibly saddened by recent reports from the Levinson family that Bob Levinson passed on while in Iranian custody,” said Sen. James Risch, Idaho Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This is further evidence that the Iranian regime will stop at nothing to subvert and abuse human rights.”

The announcement of Mr. Levinson’s death came less than a month after a federal judge in Washington ruled that Iran is liable for his detainment.

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and ranking member of the panel, vowed to continue efforts to pass the “Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-taking Accountability Act” that would authorize additional resources to government officials to rescue hostages and punish their captors.

“To be clear, the Iranian regime is fully responsible for Bob Levinson’s disappearance and his death,” Mr. Menendez said. “[Iran] must be held accountable for their gross human rights abuses and abject cruelty of keeping a father away from his children and from grandchildren he will never meet.”

FBI Agents Association President Brian O’Hare said following the announcement “the courage that the Levinson family showed over the past 13 years in their continued efforts … and to bring him home has been an inspiration to all, including his former colleagues at the FBI.”

Mr. O’Hare said the agency will support “all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this horrific crime.”

The family said Mr. Levinson’s body has not yet been returned to the U.S. and they “don’t know when, or even if, his body would be returned to us. This is the very definition of cruelty.”

They explained they “expect” the U.S. to continue pursuing measures to hold Iran and those responsible accountable for Mr. Levinson’s death and seek his return.

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