Washington (hooly News) – Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson of the United States, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 2007 in Iran, is "dead while in detention" by Iranian authorities, his family said on Wednesday.
United States President Donald Trump has not formally confirmed his death, but has suggested it is likely.
"They did not tell us that he was dead, but many people think he is," he said, saying "sorry".
He admitted that the information was "not encouraging". "He has been sick for years," he said, speaking of himself in the past and admitting that he failed to bring him back to the United States.
"We recently received information from American officials who led them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while he was detained by the Iranian authorities," the family said in a statement. a statement.
Without being able to give the causes or the date of death of the one who has often been presented as the oldest hostage in American history, the family only estimated that it had occurred before the epidemic of Covid- 19.
"We will not forget Bob and will support anything that will be done to bring those responsible for this horrific crime to justice," said the FBI Agents Association in a statement, expressing "sincere condolences" to the family.
Robert Levinson's death, if officially confirmed, risks further aggravating the already extremely strained relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on the Trump administration to "hold Tehran's nefarious regime" to account. " His democratic colleague Bob Menendez also judged the Iranian authorities "fully responsible for the disappearance and the death of Bob Levinson".
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Last week, the American diplomat Mike Pompeo had asked Tehran to "immediately release" all American nationals against the threat of coronavirus in its prisons.
"We also ask the regime to honor its commitment to work with the United States to achieve the return of Robert Levinson," he said in particular.
The administration of Donald Trump, who made the release of his nationals "hostage" or "unjustly detained" abroad a priority, had several times displayed his determination to "locate" Bob Levinson so that he "could return ".
Earlier, in early 2016, the previous administration of Barack Obama had said it thought Robert Levinson was no longer in Iran.
A reward of five million dollars had been announced for any information that could have led to his location and his return to the United States.
"It is impossible to describe our grief," said his family, who had repeatedly warned of the diabetes and high blood pressure suffered by the father of seven, who turned 72 this month.
"Without the cruel and heartless acts of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and at home with us today," she added, stressing that she had "waited for answers for 13 years", without any contact.
She also accused the Iranian authorities of "lying to the world all this time", claiming not to know what had happened to this ex-FBI agent.
Iranian officials have said on several occasions that he had left the country and that they have no information about him.
An image of him bearded, chained and wearing an orange prisoner outfit had been made public in early 2013 and probably dated two years earlier, without anyone knowing in what circumstances, where and by whom it was taken.
"They kidnapped a foreign national and deprived him of his fundamental rights, his blood is on their hands", accused the family, also attacking "those who, within the American government, abandoned him for so many years. "
She nevertheless thanked President Trump for his efforts.
Washington has always claimed that Bob Levinson was not working for the U.S. government when he disappeared in March 2017 on Kish Island in the Gulf. He was then already retired from the FBI for ten years.
But according to the Washington Post, he worked for the CIA and was to meet with an informer about the Iranian nuclear program.