Reuters: Iran is not holding a former FBI agent, who went missing on a visit to the Gulf island of Kish in Iran, but is investigating the case, the country’s intelligence minister was quoted as saying on Sunday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran is not holding a former FBI agent, who went missing on a visit to the Gulf island of Kish in Iran, but is investigating the case, the country’s intelligence minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Florida resident and ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson went missing 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.
Earlier this month, the Financial Times newspaper said he was being held by Iranian authorities.
Asked whether Iran had arrested Levinson and about rumors it might try to exchange him for an Iranian ex-deputy defense minister who went missing in Turkey in February, Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei told Fars news agency:
“This is not true. They (the Americans) have made a claim and we are following up the issue.”
“So far we have not found any clues about the arrest or the presence of an FBI agent in Iran but we are investigating the issue based on a note given to Iran,” he said.
Diplomats fear the case of Levinson could mark a new twist in 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 and the capture of 15 British sailors by Iran who were freed earlier this month.
Iran’s police chief has suggested that former deputy defense minister Ali Reza Asgari, who disappeared after checking into an Istanbul hotel on February 7, was kidnapped by Western intelligence. Israel and the United States have denied any involvement.
There are also heightened tensions between Tehran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program and Washington has spearheaded U.N. sanctions against Tehran.
The United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran in April 1980, five months after Iranian students occupied the American Embassy in Tehran and took U.S. citizens hostage.
Last Thursday, the U.S. State Department said Iran had informed Washington it had no idea about Levinson’s whereabouts.
The United States has asked two European countries to help track down Levinson and get answers from Iran about the case, but has declined to name them.