The United States has called on Iran to help find a U.S. citizen who disappeared in Iran more than six years ago, and to release two U.S. citizens who have been imprisoned by Iranian authorities.
Just days after Iran and the P5+1 group of nations reached an initial accord which halts progress on Iran’s nuclear program, the United States called on Iran to help find a U.S. citizen who disappeared in Iran more than six years ago, and to release two U.S. citizens who have been imprisoned by Iranian authorities.
Robert Levinson is a retired FBI agent and private investigator who went missing during a business trip to Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007. Three years ago, a video was sent to his family from an unidentified source, in which Mr. Levinson pled for his release.
Iranian officials have promised the Levinson family to investigate his disappearance.
In a statement, the White House noted that Robert Levinson is now one of the longest held U.S. citizens in history.
“As we approach the upcoming holiday season, we reiterate the commitment of the United States government to locate Mr. Levinson and bring him home safely to his family, friends, and loved ones,” said the White House. “We welcome the assistance of our international partners in this investigation, and we respectfully ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist us in securing Mr. Levinson’s health, welfare, and safe return.”
At a press briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted that when President Barack Obama spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier this fall, he asked for Mr. Rouhani’s assistance in locating Mr. Levinson.
Mr. Earnest said that President Obama also raised the cases of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, who was arrested on a trip to Iran in 2012 and imprisoned on charges relating to his religious beliefs; and Iranian-American ex-Marine Amir Hekmati, who was detained in Iran in 2011 while on a visit to his grandmother, and falsely charged with espionage. He was sentenced to death; and although that sentence has been overturned and a retrial ordered, Mr. Hekmati remains behind bars and his case remains in limbo and his status uncertain.
In an interview on CNN which included discussion of the recent accord in Geneva, as well as the three U.S. citizens missing or detained in Iran, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken noted that during the negotiations in Geneva, ”The only subject on the agenda [was] the nuclear file.” But, he said, “We have been repeatedly clear that we are calling on Iran to release them. We will continue to raise it. And we hope to see them return home.”