- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2020

Iran has long denied having knowledge of the disappearance of Robert Levinson, and country officials are maintaining this argument in the wake of the presumed death of the former FBI agent.

One day after Mr. Levinson’s family announced U.S. officials said they believe he died in Iranian custody before the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, Tehran reiterated its claims that Mr. Levinson left the country years ago.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said in a statement Thursday that “in the past years Iran has tried to find out his state but could not find any signs of him being alive.”

Mr. Levinson disappeared in 2007 on an island off the coast of Iran during an unofficial mission. Tehran has consistently rejected having any information of his capture, but at the time state media had reported that he was being held by Iranian security forces.

According to Reuters, the spokesperson for Iran’s mission at the United Nations Alireza Miryousefi echoed Mr. Mousavi’s claims and said that “Iran has always maintained that its officials have no knowledge of Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts, and that he is not in Iranian custody. Those facts have not changed.”

In a statement posted to Twitter the day prior, Mr. Levinson’s family said his 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.”

The family said 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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