Lawmakers call on Iran to help locate Florida man

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 11, 2013 

Florida lawmakers are calling on Iran's government to fulfill a promise of assistance to help locate Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent and Florida resident who disappeared on Kish Island off the coast of Iran in March 2007.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's office notes that today marks the 2,470th day in captivity for Levinson, making him one of the longest held American civilians in U.S. history.

His time held now eclipses that of former AP journalist Terry Anderson, who was reportedly held by the terrorist organization Hezbollah for six years and nine months, Nelson's office says. Anderson was abducted in 1985 in Beirut while covering the Lebanese civil war, and was released in 1991. Evidence that Levinson was still alive and being held captive surfaced in 2010 and again in 2011 when the family received a video and series of photos of Mr. Levinson, indicating that he was being held somewhere in southwest Asia.

Nelson's office says that as part of an ongoing effort to keep up pressure on Iran, a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week introduced a resolution that calls on Iran to come through with its earlier promise of helping the U.S. in the case.

The resolution was signed by Nelson, a Democrat, and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, along with Reps. Ted Deutch and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen.

The resolution notes that Levinson's wife, Christine, met in 2007 with Iranian government officials "who pledged to help in the investigation."

It also notes that in Nov. 2010, the family received a video of Levinson in captivity, "representing the first proof of life since his disappearance and providing some initial indications that he was being held somewhere in southwest Asia."

President Barack Obama raised the Levinson's case with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when the two leaders spoke in September, urging Rouhani to help locate Levinson and reunite him with his family.

The resolution calls on Obama and the government to continue to raise Levinson's case "at every opportunity, notwithstanding other serious disagreements the United States Government has had with the Government of Iran on a broad array of issues, including human rights, the nuclear program of Iran, the Middle East peace process, regional stability, and international terrorism."


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