The Trump administration announced sanctions Monday against two Iranian intelligence officers, accusing them of direct involvement in the “abduction, detention and probable death” of
a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who went missing in Iran in 2007.
The action by the Treasury Department was the first public move to formally hold Iran accountable for Mr. Levinson’s abduction, senior government officials told reporters. U.S. officials said that senior Iranian officials sanctioned the abduction and sought to cover up what had happened.
“The government of Iran pledged to provide assistance in bringing Bob Levinson home, but it has never followed through. The truth is that Iranian intelligence officers—with the approval of senior Iranian officials—were involved in Bob’s abduction and detention,” said FBI Director
in a statement.
He added: “While no one should be as cruelly treated as Bob was, this situation is personal because Bob served as a special agent for 22 years and will always be a part of the FBI family. We will never waver from our commitment to find out more about Bob’s long captivity, to give the Levinson family the answers they deserve, and to finally bring Bob home.”
The two officials designated—
—were described as high-ranking officers of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
Officials described the sanctions as part of a pressure campaign against Iran. They also argued that any talks with Iran should include a resolution to Mr. Levinson’s case and noted there are other Americans detained in Iran that they are seeking to return home.
A spokesman for Iran’s United Nations office said the government had nothing to do with Mr. Levinson’s disappearance. “We have consistently maintained that the Iranian government has no information on Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts,” said the spokesman,
“The investigations Iran has pursued did not reveal any information beyond his leaving the hotel in Kish Island.”
Mr. Levinson went missing on the Iranian island of Kish in 2007. Iran has long denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. His family said earlier this year that they believed he had died in Iranian custody, citing information they had received from U.S. officials.
President Trump said at the time that he didn’t accept that Mr. Levinson had died.
U.S. officials believe Mr. Levinson disappeared while meeting with a U.S. fugitive who was wanted for the murder of an Iranian diplomat in the U.S., according to leaked State Department cables.
The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations previously have reported that Mr. Levinson was in Iran partly to gather information to provide to a group of analysts with the Central Intelligence Agency.
Write to Catherine Lucey at email@example.com
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Appeared in the December 15, 2020, print edition as ‘U.S. Sanctions Two Iranians in Disappearance of Ex-FBI Agent.’