New Twist in Case of American Missing in Iran for 10 Years

Robert Levinson's family sues Iran for his kidnapping and imprisonment
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2017 9:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – The family of a CIA operative who went missing a decade ago is suing Iran, claiming the country has lied about the role it played in his disappearance. The New York Times reports the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington seeks damages against Iran for inflicting emotional distress on the family of Robert Levinson, who disappeared in March 2007 during a rogue mission to recruit a source for the CIA. Levinson, a former federal agent working as a private investigator, hasn't been seen since a hostage video taken in 2010 shows him with a long beard and bearing a sign reading "Help Me." If he is still alive, as his family believes, he would be 69. The 14-page suit says the family "has suffered grievously" from Iran's action. Wife Christine Levinson "has had nightmares about his torture."

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Family attorney David McGee tells the Sun Sentinel, "All the family wants is justice." The suit seeks unspecified damages but, McGee adds, "If they send him back, they can keep their damn money." Iran has denied any involvement in Levinson's imprisonment, though US officials believe otherwise. There was no comment from the White House, but the legal action could provoke a confrontation with Iran, the Times notes. Although the Obama administration didn't challenge Iran over Levinson, Trump vowed on the campaign trail to bring the freelance spy home and Levinson's family has said they hope his negotiating skills could win his freedom. Levinson was not part of a 2016 prisoner exchange that coincided with the landmark nuclear deal, though questions were raised about how much Iran knew about his whereabouts. (Read more Iran stories.)

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