The US State Department marked the third anniversary of the disappearance of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent turned private investigator, from Kish Island in Iran by appealing to the authorities in Tehran to cooperate with the efforts of the US and his wife, Christine, to locate him.
"In December 2007, Mrs. Levinson first met with Iranian officials who expressed a willingness to share information about their investigation into her husband’s disappearance with the family," the State Department said in a press release. "We ask that Iran stand behind its commitment to provide full details about their authorities’ investigation."
The State Department also marked the anniversary by calling on "Iran to resolve the cases of the five American citizens who are unjustly detained in Iran: Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, Kian Tajbakhsh, and Reza Taghavi."
Mr. Levinson, who served 27 years as an FBI agent and also worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, disappeared from Kish Island, a free trade zone and smuggling center where Iran's typically strict visa requirements are not enforced, while investigating a cigarette smuggling ring for a private client. He has seven children and two grandchildren.
The US has said in the past that despite promises of full cooperation from Iran that it believes the country has information about Levinson's disappearance that it isn't sharing.
"Over the past three years, my family has desperately has desperately reached out to you as much as possible," his daughter, Sarah, wrote in an open letter to the US and Iranian governments on a website the family maintains about Levinson's disappearance. "Unfortunately, none of our messages have brought us any closer to finding our father and bringing him home."
The family in the past has said Levinson expected to spend only a day on Kish Island. Shortly after his disappearance, Iran's state-run Press TV carried an article that said Levinson had been taken into Iranian custody on March 9, 2007, and predicted he would be freed within a "matter of days."
In a statement on the family website this past December, Mrs. Levinson said she and her relatives "respectfully ask for clarification" about the Press TV article and called for Iranian government help in securing his return home as a "humanitarian gesture."
In 2007, the Financial Times quoted Dawud Salahuddin – a man wanted by the FBI and connected to Press TV – as saying he'd shared a hotel room with Levinson on March 8. Mr. Salahuddin said he was detained by Iranian authorities himself that day and upon his release the next day Levinson was gone. "I don't think he is missing, but don't want to point my finger at anyone," he said. "Some people know exactly where he is ... he came only to see me."
In September 2009, the Times of London reported that Salahuddin had worked for three years as a senior editor at Press TV under the alias Hassan Abdulrahman. The paper also said that he was an African-American who was originally called David Belfield before converting to Islam in 1969 and changing his name to Dawud Salahuddin.
Abdulrahman, as he's now called, is wanted by the FBI for the murder of Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former aide to the Shah who was murdered at his home in Maryland in 1980. The paper, which said it reached Abdulrahman by telephone at his home in Iran, said he admitted to the murder and showed no remorse. “I don’t regret that, no,” he said.