The family members of former FBI agent Robert Levinson are outraged after they claim President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry “forgot” about him during the Iran prisoner swap negotiations. Levinson, a former FBI agent, went missing eight years ago in Iran while collecting information on government corruption for the CIA. Now, eight years later, Levinson is still missing and his family wants to know why the American government hasn’t pushed Iran more on his whereabouts.
The Daily Mail reports that former FBI agent Robert Levinson went missing on the Iranian island of Kish in March 2007. The father, now a private investigator, went to the island to gather information for the CIA on government corruption and never returned. The agent was believed to have been captured by Iranian officials and held captive. However, Iran has never confirmed that they captured Levinson; currently, the American government is not sure where Levinson is located or if he is alive.
— Fred Fleitz (@FredFleitz) January 17, 2016
Despite not having confirmation from Iran, the family received a series of photographs between November of 2010 and April of 2011 that seemingly showed Levinson alive in an orange prison jumpsuit holding signs with various messages. A video also arrived with the messages and were turned over to investigators. However, the images and video could not be traced and the family is still not certain where Levinson is being held. However, they say that their loved one was seemingly “forgotten” during the recent prisoner swaps with Iran. The family says the government should have pushed for information on the whereabouts of Levinson and demanded his return.
A travesty that the US Government has turned its back on one of our own #whataboutbob pic.twitter.com/ZOR8WO0EGi
— Otown_Di (@otown_di) January 16, 2016
In response, the Levinson family is flooding social media with the hashtag #WhatAboutBob in hopes to increase public awareness of their plight. The family says they are incredibly happy for the families of the four prisoners that were returned in the Iran prisoner swaps; however, they want to know what happened to their father Bob.
“We are happy for the other families. But once again, Bob Levinson has been left behind. We are devastated. We need your help. Our father, Bob Levinson, was left behind. This is not acceptable. Please reach out to everyone you know and let’s flood them with our anger and outrage.”
— K. L. Byles (@klbyles) January 16, 2016
Though the family wants to see results, officials working on the case say that they are “still working” with Iranian officials to locate Levinson and to bring him home.
“We weren’t able to do that in that time frame and we have agreed with the Iranians that we will continue to use the channels that [now] exist for that purpose.”
However, another official notes that with the release of these four prisoners, more information about Bob Levinson may be made available. They will question the four released prisoners about Levinson to determine exactly where he may be located. The officials say they will “not cease” their efforts.
“[This prisoner return is] an opportunity to focus specifically on identifying [Levinson’s] whereabouts. We recognize that his family has endured the hardship of his disappearance for over eight years now, and we will not cease our efforts.”
Think how you would feel to read about the release of Americans from Iran, only to learn that your loved one remains there. #WhatAboutBob
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) January 16, 2016
Officials say the case has been especially difficult, because whoever captured Levinson and sent the videos to the family has covered their tracks “perfectly.” With the images and video being hard to trace, government investigators have claimed it the guilty party is likely Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and not a terrorist group.
[Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo]