News / Middle East

Video Shows US Hostage Alive One Year Ago

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Four years ago, American Bob Levinson disappeared mysteriously in Iran. Now, the family of the retired FBI agent has released a video it received in late 2010, showing him to be alive. The video was not released earlier, because federal officials thought it would complicate their investigation.

"Please help me get home." Bob Levinson pleads for help from a makeshift cell. The retired FBI agent asks the U.S. government to answer the demands of his unnamed captors.

"Thirty-three years of service to the United States deserves something," says Levinson.

The Levinson family received the video a year ago - the first proof that Levinson was still alive after disappearing in 2007 while working as a private investigator. The family has just released this on its website, along with a direct message from Levinson's wife and son.

"My mother has received your messages. Please tell us your demands so we can work together to bring my father home safely," says David Levinson.

"All I want is for our family to be whole again," says wife Christine Levinson.

The U.S. State Department said Friday that officials have been in touch with Iran where he was last seen.  

"We're not in a position to confirm even where he is, what we have said, what the FBI has said, the Secretary [of State Hillary Clinton] said it in March, is that we've received indications that he is being held captive in Southwest Asia," said Victoria Nuland, U.S. State Department spokeswoman.

Two years ago, Christine Levinson met with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida about her missing husband. She earlier spoke with the Iranian ambassador and answered questions about Bob Levinson's dealings in Iran..

"They have always said that they don't have any information. I'm hoping that as a result of them asking questions again that they have information and that they will share that information," said Christine Levinson.

Iranian officials deny any knowledge of Levinson's whereabouts. Christine Levinson said her husband was looking into cigarette smuggling for a private client. But his time may be getting short.

"I am not in very good health. I am running very quickly out of diabetes medicine," says Bob Levinson on the video.

That was a year ago. Meantime, Levinson's seven children and two grandchildren celebrate family traditions without him.
And, his wife continues to pay his cellphone bills - in hopes that he will someday call.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an award-winning television reporter who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.  She has won an Emmy, many Associated Press awards, and a Clarion for her coverage of Haiti,  national politics, the southern economy, and the 9/11 bombing anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Syrian medical crisis and the Asiana plane crash, and was VOA’s chief reporter from the Boston Marathon bombing.

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