The longest held American hostage in US history officially became retired FBI agent Robert Levinson on Tuesday. Levinson disappeared mysteriously more than six years ago, with Tuesday marking day 2,455. He surpasses journalist Terry Anderson, who before had claim to being the longest held American hostage. Anderson was freed in 1991.
According to New York Daily News, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson was working as a private investigator when he vanished in March 2007. At the time, Levinson was investigating cigarette smuggling on the island of Kish, an Iranian resort.
Very little is known about the whereabouts of Levinson, who is now 65. His family received was sent a video three years ago and several strange pictures in 2011, reports Yahoo! News. One of the pictures shows a haggard Levinson with a graying beard in an orange jumpsuit and shackled while holding a sign reading “4th year…You can’t or you don’t want…?” The family has not heard anything from Robert Levinson for nearly two years. Sources say that the video and images released of Levinson, now the longest held American hostage in history, show indications that they were created by Iranian intelligence.
The retired FBI agent’s wife, Christine Levinson, has pleaded with her husband’s captors to release him: “To whoever is holding Bob, I ask for your mercy.” She says the family will soon have their seventh Thanksgiving without Levinson, “and the pain will be almost impossible to bear.” In her message, posted on the family’s website, HelpBobLevinson.com, Christine Levinson tells her husband that he has a new grandson to meet when he is released. Until then, she asks him to stay strong.
President Obama reportedly mentioned the longest held American hostage, as well as other imprisoned Americans Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini, in his telephone conversation with Iranian President Rouhani in September.
With the recent diplomatic agreements made between the US and Iranian governments, the longest held American hostage’s family hopes Levinson will be released. On Tuesday the White House announced that it will be using the warming relationship with Iran to push for the release of imprisoned Americans.
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