American who disappeared in Iran in 2007 was working for the CIA
December 17, 2013 1 Comment
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
An American private investigator, who was last seen in Iran in 2007, was under contract with the United States Central Intelligence Agency when he disappeared, according to information published last week. Bob Levinson was last seen alive in a hotel in Iran’s Kish Island, on March 8, 2007. He was reportedly there as a private investigator, to explore alleged links to a worldwide cigarette smuggling network. Both his family and the CIA have vehemently denied rumors that he was secretly working for the US government when he disappeared. Last week, however, the Associated Press and The Washington Post published lead articles in which they alleged that Levinson had been on a CIA mission at the time of his disappearance. The Associated Press, which described the news as “one of the biggest scandals in recent CIA history”, said it decided to run the story after agreeing to delay its publication three times in the past. The news agency said it first confirmed Levinson’s ties to the CIA in 2010, but was told by the US government that airing a story on the subject would compromise Levinson’s safety. Government officials reportedly told Associated Press editors that they were “pursuing promising leads” to get Levinson home, and that news of his CIA connection would fatally hamper their efforts. However the news agency decided to publish the story because, as its editors said, Levinson’s captors now “almost certainly know about his CIA association”. In a story aired on Friday, CNN said it spoke to an unnamed source “involved in the matter”, who confirmed that Levinson was in Iran on private business, but was also under contract with the CIA as an undercover agent. Ever since Levinson’s disappearance, Iranian government officials have maintained that he is probably dead and that they have no idea of his body’s whereabouts. But the unnamed source told CNN that US intelligence officials “have every reason to believe that [Levinson] is alive and that the Iranians control his fate”. The Washington Post alleged in its article that Levinson’s family threatened to sue the CIA after his disappearance, and that the Agency eventually negotiated a $2.5 million out-of-court settlement in order to avoid publicity. Additionally, an investigation of the Levinson case, conducted by the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General led to three dismissals and seven demotions at the Agency. CNN contacted the CIA but was told by Agency spokesman Chris White that there would be “no comment on any purported affiliation between Mr. Levinson and the US Government”.