Reuters: A former FBI agent is being held by Iranian authorities, the Financial Times on Friday quoted an associate of the missing American as saying. TEHRAN (Reuters) – A former FBI agent is being held by Iranian authorities, the Financial Times on Friday quoted an associate of the missing American as saying.
Diplomats fear the case of Robert Levinson could mark a new twist in the round of apparent tit-for-tat detentions involving the United States, Britain and Iran, which began with the detention by U.S. forces in Iraq of five Iranians in January.
Washington has made an official inquiry to Iran about Levinson, who U.S. officials say went there on private business. Tehran says it is trying to find out what happened to him.
The Financial Times quoted Dawud Salahuddin — himself a U.S. citizen wanted by U.S. authorities for an alleged murder in 1980 — as saying he and Levinson had shared a hotel room on the Gulf island of Kish on March 8.
Iranian officials in plain clothes came to the room and detained and questioned Salahuddin about his Iranian passport, Salahuddin said. On his release a day later Levinson had disappeared, and the Iranian officials told Salahuddin he had left Iran.
“I don’t think he is missing, but don’t want to point my finger at anyone. Some people know exactly where he is,” Salahuddin told the newspaper. “He came only to see me.”
Salahuddin said he was worried about Levinson’s health but was confident “he is well taken care of” by Iranian authorities.
He said the purpose of his meeting with Levinson was to put him in touch with Iranian authorities to help his investigations into cigarette smuggling, as part of the former FBI agent’s work for a tobacco company, the FT reported.
Salahuddin, also known as David Belfield and Hassan Abdulrahman, is a U.S. citizen who converted to Islam. He is wanted by Washington for the 1980 murder of a former Iranian diplomat and opponent of the Islamic revolution which overthrew the shah in 1979.