WASHINGTON — Trump administration officers have concluded that Robert A. Levinson, the retired F.B.I. agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 on an unauthorized mission for the C.I.A., died while in Iranian custody, his relatives introduced on Wednesday.
Newly disclosed intelligence pointed to Mr. Levinson’s loss of life, prime national safety officials informed his family inside White Household Predicament Space in recent months, in accordance to a individual familiar with the meeting. The officials offered sturdy evidence that Mr. Levinson had died someday in the previous quite a few many years, the human being stated, but did not detail the evidence.
“We just lately been given details from U.S. officials that has led both of those them and us to conclude that our wonderful partner and father died whilst in Iranian custody,” Mr. Levinson’s loved ones wrote in a assertion on Fb. “We really do not know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
But soon after Mr. Levinson’s family members issued the assertion, President Trump appeared to contradict the conclusions of his countrywide security officials. “It’s not on the lookout terrific, but I won’t accept that he’s useless,” Mr. Trump said in reaction to a dilemma about Mr. Levinson in the course of a news convention. “They have not advised us he’s lifeless, but a good deal of individuals are pondering that is the case.”
It was not very clear why Mr. Trump hedged his reply. Some govt officials have extensive considered that Mr. Levinson was useless, even though the F.B.I. claimed for a long time it was committed to getting him or his stays.
Mr. Levinson was the longest-held hostage in American record, according to the F.B.I. His disappearance brought about a big scandal inside of the C.I.A. soon after lawmakers found what took place, but it was stored tranquil. Three longtime analysts were compelled out, others disciplined and agency regulations rewritten.
But the C.I.A. and other federal government officers never publicly acknowledged that Mr. Levinson was functioning for the agency even as good friends and relatives verified it. Had they under no circumstances uncovered his do the job, the secret may well have died with Mr. Levinson.
The intelligence community’s assessment that Mr. Levinson is no more time alive puts to relaxation a problem that has haunted his family for decades. But it however continues to be unclear how and when Mr. Levinson died.
The Iranian federal government has under no circumstances admitted abducting Mr. Levinson. This month, he would have turned 72. Previously this month, on the anniversary of his disappearance, the F.B.I. explained: “During the previous 13 decades, the only credible proof of duty in Mr. Levinson’s disappearance has pointed to all those doing the job for the govt of Iran.”
The loved ones thanked the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray and Robert C. O’Brien, the nationwide security adviser, in its assertion. They were all in the White Dwelling conference when the loved ones was informed, the individual mentioned.
Mr. Levinson disappeared from Kish Island, off the coastline of Iran, on March 9, 2007. For years, United States officers would only say that Mr. Levinson, a previous dogged F.B.I. investigator, was performing for a personal organization on his vacation when he vanished.
He was final noticed alive in a 2010 hostage video clip pleading for aid and in pictures sporting a Guantánamo-type orange jumpsuit. Neither the online video nor the pictures disclosed the identities of his captors. The movie experienced a Pashtun wedding song well known in Afghanistan participating in in the background, but F.B.I. investigators concluded that it was so artfully staged that it was most likely made by a point out-sponsored intelligence team.
In 2016, Iranian officers secretly knowledgeable the Obama administration that they had obtained intelligence that the continues to be of an American experienced been buried in Balochistan, a rugged, lawless area in western Pakistan that borders Afghanistan and Iran. Us residents officials assumed that the remains were Mr. Levinson’s.
But the Pakistani authorities found no remains at the site, and American officials concluded that the report, alternatively than a gesture of very good will, was a gambit by Iran to more cloud its role in Mr. Levinson’s destiny.
Last calendar year, Iran acknowledged for the to start with time that it had an open up court docket case involving Mr. Levinson. In a filing to the United Nations, Iran claimed the scenario was “ongoing” in advance of its Innovative Court, devoid of elaborating.