Reuters: The United States said on Wednesday it is asking other countries to help find out what may have happened to a former FBI agent missing in Iran. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Wednesday it is asking other countries to help find out what may have happened to a former FBI agent missing in Iran.
Washington has not had formal diplomatic relations with Tehran since 1980, when it cut ties after the Iranian revolution and the holding of American hostages.
Florida resident Robert Levinson went missing while on a visit to the Gulf island of Kish in Iran early in March.
U.S. officials have said they believe he is in Iran but have no credible information about his exact whereabouts. It is not clear why Levinson visited Iran.
Diplomats fear the case of Levinson could mark a new twist in a series of detentions involving the United States, Britain and Iran, which began with the holding of five Iranians by U.S. forces in Iraq in January and the capture by Iran of 15 British sailors who were freed earlier this month.
There are also heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, with Washington having spearheaded U.N. sanctions against Tehran.
The U.S. State Department said it was approaching other nations, which it declined to name, because it had yet to get a satisfactory response to its own inquiry to Iran’s government.
“We are, starting today, going to approach other governments that have diplomatic relations with Iran to see if they know anything about Mr. Levinson’s welfare and whereabouts and also to make inquiries on his behalf as well,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
McCormack said the United States was asking others because Iran had enough time to investigate where Mr. Levinson might be but had not provided “any substantive information.”
“Perhaps there is information that they (other nations) might have. Perhaps they are able to find out information through their own resources on the ground there about Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts,” McCormack said.
The United States first sought information about Levinson on March 12, making its request through Switzerland. When that inquiry proved fruitless, the United States sent a formal letter about two weeks ago, also via Switzerland.
Details surrounding Levinson’s visit to Kish island are sketchy, but the State Department has said the United States was “relatively confident” he did not leave Iran.
The United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran in April 1980, five months after Iranian students occupied the American embassy in Tehran. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.