Man Missing in Iran Named; He Worked for DEA and FBI
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
A former FBI agent missing in Iran since early last month has been identified as Robert A. Levinson of Coral Springs, Fla., according to U.S. officials and a former colleague. Levinson was a 28-year veteran of both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, according to a biography on the Web site of Business Integrity International, a consulting firm where he worked until two years ago.
The State Department has not received a response from Iran after a formal query about his whereabouts and welfare, an agency official said yesterday. It was the second message sent by Washington to Tehran through Swiss diplomatic intermediaries since Levinson was last heard from on March 8. The initial message was sent a few weeks ago, with a follow-up at a higher level on Monday, U.S. officials say. The Swiss Embassy in Tehran has represented U.S. interests in Iran since relations were cut off in 1980.
Business Integrity's Web site says Levinson has "extensive international experience and has focused on criminal activities, business intelligence projects, asset location and recoveries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Russia and Europe." It also says he represented the United States while serving on task forces dealing with organized crime and money laundering in Europe and the Eastern bloc. The site also says that Levinson, a graduate of the City College of New York, knows Russian and Spanish.
Levinson had been involved recently in investigations in Ukraine and Russia, according to a former colleague. Calls to Levinson's office and cellphone were not returned.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday that the United States does not have credible information about Levinson's situation. The State Department has been communicating with Levinson's family and has been trying to track his movements for more than two weeks, U.S. officials said. He was visiting Kish Island, an Iranian resort and free-trade zone off the southern coast that does not require a visa to visit. He had traveled to Iran from the United Arab Emirates, U.S. officials said.
The FBI and State Department have said that Levinson -- a tall, middle-aged man who retired from the FBI more than a decade ago -- was not working for the U.S. government. He worked in private investigations for corporate clients, according to FBI spokesman John Miller. As an FBI agent, Levinson was not assigned to Middle East issues, officials said.
The State Department said Levinson was in Iran to meet someone to set up an interview for a project involving a book and a documentary by a producer and author believed to be from Canada. A senior U.S. official said Levinson's project was "innocuous" and "had no connection with anything political." Levinson also may have been doing some consulting work, U.S. officials said.