Report: Iran Offered to Release American Years Ago

Robert Levinson's family didn't know about secret meeting
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2016 9:28 AM CST
Report: Iran Offered to Release American Years Ago
Christine Levinson, center, wife of Robert Levinson, and her children, Dan and Samantha Levinson, talk to reporters in New York, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.    (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A CIA consultant who disappeared in Iran in 2007 wasn't part of this month's prisoner exchange—and according to newly disclosed documents seen by the New York Times, the best chance of getting Robert Levinson home may have been in 2011. A memo sent to the FBI on Oct. 31, 2011 states that Iran’s ambassador to France had told representatives of the Fellowship Foundation group—which had secured a previous prisoner release—that Levinson would be released if an International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran was delayed, the Times reports, citing a forthcoming book about the search for Levinson. Iran has long claimed to know nothing about the disappearance of Levinson, who was on a "rogue mission" for CIA operators when he vanished.

The IAEA report ended up being released early, and it's not clear what actions US officials took after that, the Times reports. The White House has said that it believes Levinson, 58 when he disappeared, may now be outside Iran, if he is still alive. Levinson's wife, Christine, tells the Times that she wasn't told about the Paris meeting. "If this happened in 2011, then why isn't Bob home by now?" she asks. Last week, she said she wished she had been told in advance that her husband wouldn't be part of the exchange. "We had to learn it from the TV ourselves, and that's very disappointing and heartbreaking," she told the AP. Dan, one of his seven children, says he believes Levinson is still alive, though the last evidence of that was chilling photos the family received in early 2011. (More Robert Levinson stories.)

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