Iran General NewsIran allows family to search for missing former F.B.I....

Iran allows family to search for missing former F.B.I. agent

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New York Times: The Iranian government said Sunday that it would allow family members of a former F.B.I. agent they believe is missing in Iran to travel there to try to find him. The New York Times

By WARREN HOGE
Published: September 24, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 — The Iranian government said Sunday that it would allow family members of a former F.B.I. agent they believe is missing in Iran to travel there to try to find him.

The government granted the permission in a statement from its mission to the United Nations, which said it was responding to a written plea to Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, from Christine Levinson, the wife of the missing man, Robert Levinson.

The statement said that Iranian authorities had “made every effort to find any clues” of Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts, but that they could not corroborate his presence in Iran.

The statement said that despite the fact that “no sign of his presence in Iran has been traced so far,” the government was giving Mrs. Levinson a positive response “if this trip may in any way help allay her concern and anxiety as well as those of the Levinson family.”

Mrs. Levinson said her husband disappeared March 8 after flying from Dubai to Kish, a resort island off the southern coast of Iran. Kish belongs to Iran, but it is a free-trade zone, and foreigners are not required to have a visa to go there.

Mr. Levinson, 59, was an F.B.I. agent for more than 20 years until his retirement in 1998. He has since worked as a private investigator.

Mrs. Levinson said she last spoke to her husband before he flew out of Dubai on March 8, and grew worried when she could not reach him. He was due to fly to London on March 10, she said, but never made the trip.

Mrs. Levinson responded to a request for comment on Sunday with an e-mail message in which she thanked the Iranians for their announcement, but said she was awaiting more information from them “necessary for my search for my husband to have any chance of success.” She also disputed Iran’s claim that it had uncovered no evidence of Mr. Levinson’s presence in Iran.

“This appears to contradict information provided by Iranian authorities to the Swiss government in early September,” she wrote. “At that time Iranian officials said that Bob had left his hotel on Kish on March 8 by taxi, but could not confirm whether he was headed to the airport.”

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