Missing CIA contractor's family to sue Iran over disappearance

Missing CIA contractor's family to sue Iran over disappearance
Ten years ago former CIA agent Robert Levinson went missing in Iran. His family are now taking Tehran to court believing him to be held by the regime.
3 min read
22 March, 2017
Levinson was shown in a video pleading for his release [www.helpboblevinson.com]

The family of a former CIA agent who went missing in Iran will sue the Tehran government, US media have reported, alleging the regime are responsible for his disappearance.

The relatives will take Iran to court under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act with the wife and children of Robert Levinson believing the former agent is still being held by Iranian authorities.
Levinson disappeared on Iran's Qish Island a decade ago, while he was said to be investigating cigarette smuggling rings for a client. 

He was a former US agent and had been since then contracted by the CIA to work as a freelance investigator.

There he met a US fugitive, Dawud Salahuddin, who says the pair were both arrested by Iranian authorities and although Salahuddin was released shortly after, Levinson wasn't.

Salahuddin remains the last person to see Levinson, and adds to speculation that Salahuddin is being held by the Iranian regime.

"Three weeks after his disappearance an Iranian government news outlet, Press TV, announced that he had been taken into custody by Iranian security authorities but was expected to be released shortly," the family's allegations read.

"Despite this report, Robert Levinson was not released and the Iranian government began falsely denying any knowledge of his capture or whereabouts."

The only sign that he could be alive, since he disappeared in March 2007, is a video that emerged of him pleading for his life and a series of photos showing a dishevelled Levinson clad in an orange jumpsuit and chains.
Video from the family with footage of captive Levinson [YouTube]

Tehran claimed that Levinson was captured by militants in Iran, but his family believe the footage was a ruse by the regime to cover their tracks and that he is still in Iranian custody.

The Levinson family allege that Tehran is behind the video and consequent photos emailed to them in name of a terrorist group.

Tehran's history of torturing prisoners and the dishevelled appearance of Levinson in the photos all indicate that the detainee was subject to extreme forms of interrogation by his Iranian jailers, the family say.

On the tenth anniversary of his disappearance marked earlier this month, his family issued a statement slamming Iran for its alleged detention of Levinson and the US government for its inaction.

"Given this pattern, Robert Levinson's circumstances and his appearance and actions in the hostage-related videos and photographs... it is reasonable to believe that Iran has used various forms of physical and psychological torture on Levinson," the statement read.

"For ten years the government of Iran has been allowed to dodge and weave every time it was asked to come clean about what happened to Bob and send him home. Where is the outrage of this treatment of an American citizen?"

Four US prisoners held by Iran were released the same day a nuclear deal was agreed between world powers and Tehran in 2016.

The US sent a plane with $400 million in cash on the same day that the detainees were released, officials said, which Republican critics of the former US President Barack Obama allege was ransom money for the return of the prisoners.

Washington said at the time said the money was part of reparations for weapons ordered by Iran during the time of the Shah which the US never delivered.