Iran General NewsUS issues new appeal over ex-agent missing in Iran

US issues new appeal over ex-agent missing in Iran

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ImageAFP: The White House renewed appeals Thursday for Tehran to shed light on a former FBI agent who disappeared 1,000 days ago while visiting an Iranian resort island in the Gulf. ImageWASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House renewed appeals Thursday for Tehran to shed light on a former FBI agent who disappeared 1,000 days ago while visiting an Iranian resort island in the Gulf.

"The United States calls on the government of the Islamic republic of Iran to assist in providing any information on Mr (Robert) Levinson's whereabouts and in ensuring his prompt and safe return to his family," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

The statement said US National Security Adviser James Jones had visited Levinson's family on Thursday to reassure them that his case remained a priority for the United States.

Christine Levinson says her husband, who retired from the FBI a decade ago, had traveled to Kish Island to investigate cigarette counterfeiting in the region. He went missing on March 9, 2007. She traveled to Iran in December 2007 to find out what happened.

"While Iranian authorities promised to share information about their investigation, that promise has yet to be fulfilled," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"Levinson's case remains a priority for the United States, as does resolving the cases of other American citizens who are unjustly detained in Iran."

Those detained are three US hikers arrested July 31 after straying into Iranian territory — Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd — as well as Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and retired Iranian-American businessman Reza Taghavi.

The mystery of Levinson's disappearance is a further strain in relations between the United States and Iran, which have had no diplomatic ties for nearly three decades and remain at loggerheads over Iranian nuclear program.

Iran has also so far balked at efforts by President Barack Obama's administration to engage it in negotiations on its nuclear program and other issues.

The Iranian judiciary has denied holding Levinson.

Senior US officials handed Iranian representatives in March a letter from Clinton concerning the fate of Levinson and another American missing at the time, Roxana Saberi.

US-born Saberi, who had been living in Iran for six years and working as a reporter for Western media outlets while writing a book, was taken from her home on January 31 by four men from the Iranian intelligence ministry.

She was sentenced to eight years in prison for spying for the United States but a court reduced her prison term to a two-year suspended sentence and she was released in May after spending 100 days in an Iranian jail.

Five British yachtsmen seized by Iran after apparently straying into the country's territorial waters were released on Wednesday.

Washington and Tehran broke off diplomatic ties in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which overthrew the US-backed shah.

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