US has not abandoned ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, says John Kerry
US government is pursuing a “number of different channels” as it seeks to determine whether or not he is alive
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Sunday 15 December 2013
The US has not abandoned Robert Levinson, the ex-FBI agent who was reportedly on a covert CIA-sponsored trip when he went missing in Iran in 2007, and is pursuing a “number of different channels” as it seeks to determine whether or not he is alive, the American Secretary of State insisted on Sunday after Mr Levinson’s family criticised America’s failure to “make saving this good man’s life the priority it should be.”
John Kerry said that to suggest that the government had “abandoned [Mr Levinson] or anybody has abandoned him is simply incorrect... and not helpful.”
America’s top diplomat spoke out days after the Associated Press reported that, contrary to the long-standing official line that Mr Levinson was on a private trip when he went missing in March, 2007, he was on an unapproved CIA mission investigating the Iranian regime. When the US government learnt of the unauthorised mission, it triggered an internal scandal that led to the exit of three analysts. According to the AP, the agency also paid Mr Levinson’s family $2.5m to see off the prospect of a public airing of the details in a lawsuit.
Mr Kerry did not directly comment on the report on Sunday.
“The fact is, that I have personally raised the issue not only at the highest level that I have been involved with, but also through other intermediaries,” he told ABC’s This Week, adding: “We’re looking for proof of life. We’re working on several processes that I’m not free to talk about. But there are a number of different channels that are being worked aggressively.”
When asked whether he thought the Iranian government was responsible for the disappearance, he said: “I can’t tell you what happened or how the sequence was, but I think the Iranian government has the ability to help us here, and we hope they will.”
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