Robert Levinson, RIP

Robert Levinson was a former FBI agent who became a private contractor and traveled to Iran in 2007 on behalf of a client, but also with a secret, unauthorized charge from the CIA. He was captured or arrested by Iranian authorities who briefly announced that they had him in captivity, but then deleted that claim and denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. He was last known to be alive in 2011. His death while in Iranian custody, most likely some years ago, has now been confirmed:

A former FBI agent who went missing while on an unauthorised CIA mission in Iran died in custody, his family have said after receiving new information from the US and Iranian governments.

The fate of Robert Levinson, who did not return from a trip to Kish Island in the Gulf in 2007, has been one of the biggest mysteries of present US-Iran relations.

The Iranian authorities have consistently denied knowing anything of his whereabouts, even though a state news agency at the time he disappeared published a story on its website saying that he was in custody, although that was quickly removed.

After the latest approaches by the US authorities to the Iranians, however, his family say they now believe he died some time ago.

One is tempted to surmise that the Obama administration, hellbent on a rapprochement with Iran, did not do enough to try to rescue Levinson. I don’t know whether that assumption is correct or not.

A court case against Iran in the United States by his family, seeking damages for the imprisonment and torture he allegedly suffered at the Islamic Republic’s hands, renewed interest in his case. Iran said it had logged his case on a missing persons file.

Earlier this month a judge awarded the family a notional $1.5 billion in personal and punitive damages.

They won’t collect it, of course. But maybe Iran could just send back the pallets of cash, amounting to $400 million, that the Obama administration sent the mullahs as a down payment on our $1.7 billion “settlement” with them.

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