The last time former FBI agent Robert Levinson was heard from was in a 2011 hostage video. The last time he was seen was four years before that, on an island off Iran—where he vanished "under still-mysterious circumstances while on an unauthorized CIA mission," per the AP. Iran has maintained it knows nothing about his whereabouts, and in 2016 Levinson's family filed a complaint with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. The Washington Post reports the family was told to expect no response—but they were recently told there was one. The UN sent the family an email saying "according to the last statement of Tehran’s Justice Department, Mr. Robert Alan Levinson has an ongoing case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran." It's Iran's first acknowledgement on an open court case against Levinson.
At the Post, Jason Rezaian writes, "This is potentially huge news. It’s the first indication in over a decade from Iran that he may be in their custody and that authorities are pursuing a case against him." There were no details given regarding how long the case had been open or why it began, though the court is one that handles cases involving spies, blasphemy, and any attempt to undermine the government. "We want to see him, and we want to know what are the charges? If there are charges," his family said in a Saturday statement. But on Sunday Iran stated the case wasn't a criminal one and "was just a file about a missing person" opened on "the basis of goodwill and humanitarian issues," per NBC News. The government last week added $20 million to the FBI's $5 million being offered for info leading to Levinson's return. (Read more Robert Levinson stories.)