Bill that would enhance hostage recovery efforts named after Jewish American missing in Iran


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate introduced a bill that would enhance U.S. capabilities to track hostages and named it after Robert Levinson, the Jewish American last seen in Iran 12 years ago.

The Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act was introduced Thursday — two days before the 12th anniversary of the March 9, 2007, abduction of Levinson.

Levinson, 70, of Coral Springs, Florida, a private investigator and former FBI agent who was also a part-time consultant for the CIA, disappeared on Iran’s Kish Island during what has since been revealed as a rogue CIA operation.

The act would require that the State Department review all cases of Americans held in captivity abroad and determine which ones meet the criteria of being held hostage. It would trigger sanctions on those responsible for holding the American hostage and create a position of special envoy for hostages to supervise the work.

The measure was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee, and Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., its ranking member.

The FBI and the State Department separately issued statements calling for Levinson’s release and noting the standing $5 million reward for information that would lead to his safe return.

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