WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration reiterated a plea to Iran’s government to find and free a Jewish man believed to be held hostage for six years.
“On March 9, 2007, American citizen and retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran,” said the statement issued Tuesday by the White House press office. “Today, Mr. Levinson becomes one of the longest-held Americans in history.” The statement went on to “respectfully ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist us in securing Mr. Levinson’s health, welfare, and safe return.”
The polite plea and the careful insinuation that Levinson was not necessarily being held by the Iranian government reflect the recent warming of U.S.-Iran relations. On Saturday, Iran and major world powers agreed to an interim deal to ease sanctions in exchange for freezing some nuclear activity.
Levinson, a private detective and former FBI agent from Coral Springs, Fla., disappeared from Kish Island while apparently researching a case. He is the father of seven children.
The Obama administration last appealed for his release in August.