(JTA) — The family of a Jewish-American man who disappeared from Iran in 2007 while working on behalf of the CIA is suing the Iranian government in the United States.
Robert Levinson, 68, of Coral Springs, Florida, was a private investigator and former agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who was also a part-time consultant for the Central Intelligence Agency. He has been missing since disappearing from Iran’s Kish Island during what has since been revealed as a rogue CIA operation.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday by his family in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeks unspecified damages from Iran, in part for inflicting emotional distress on Levinson’s wife and seven children, The New York Times reported.
In an announcement earlier in March on the 10th anniversary of Levinson’s disappearance, a statement from the FBI said the agency has a dedicated team seeking his return. The statement was unusual since the State Department and the White House over the years have noted the anniversary, but the FBI has not weighed in.
As a candidate in 2015, President Donald Trump vowed to bring Levinson home.
Under President Barack Obama, five Americans were released by Iran in January 2016 in an exchange timed to coincide with the implementation of the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six major powers. Levinson was not one of those released, but the Obama administration, which had brokered the deal, accepted an Iranian pledge to help track his whereabouts. The information Iran provided led to dead ends, the Times reported Sunday.
Some American officials believe that Levinson died in captivity or that he is no longer being held in Iran. Throughout its time in office, the Obama administration continued to say that bringing Levinson home was a top priority.
There is an outstanding $5 million reward for information leading to Levinson’s return.