Robert Levinson

Levinson Family

Wife Of Prisoner Robert Levinson Hopes New Negotiations With Iran Will Bring Him Home

May 10, 2018 - 2:56 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/CBS News) -- Could the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal open the door to bring home an American who disappeared in Iran more than 11 years ago?

Retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson grew up in New Hyde Park, Long Island, and disappeared in Iran in March 2007 while working as a private investigator.

Levinson disappeared from Iran's Kish Island. A 2013 Associated Press investigation revealed that he was working for the CIA on an unauthorized intelligence-gathering mission.

His wife, Christine Levinson, joined WCBS 880’s Steve Scott by phone from Florida Thursday.

“I believe that the Iranians know exactly where he is and what happened to him,” Mrs. Levinson said.

In late 2010, Levinson's family received a video that offered proof that he was still alive. In the video, Levinson, who had lost considerable weight, pleaded for help to return home. In April 2011, the family received photos showing Levinson, with unkempt hair, dressed in an orange jumpsuit. His relatives have said that he suffers from diabetes, gout and hypertension.

Mrs. Levinson said she believes her husband is still alive today.

“I know that Bob is a strong man who would want to come home and will do everything possible to stay alive in order for that to happen,” she said.

On Tuesday, President Trump announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear pact – formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Trump said he is willing to renegotiate with Iran, and Mrs. Levinson said she hoped information about her husband would be a priority in any new negotiations.

“I believe that my husband should be a main part of whatever the Iranians and the United States government talk about. In the original deal with JCPOA, it was supposed to be talked about, and they only had one meeting after that was instituted, so now that it’s out, I’m hoping that they will once again get together and talk about how to resolve Bob’s case,” she said.

Meanwhile, Trump has also made it a priority to bring home prisoners held in other countries. Early Thursday morning, Trump greeted three Americans freed by North Korea and declared their release a sign of promise toward his goal of de-nuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Mrs. Levinson said the U.S. government has always been supportive in trying to find out about her husband’s status, and the FBI has offered a $5 million reward for anyone who provides information leading to his safe return.

As to whether the release of the prisoners from North Korea made her optimistic, Mrs. Levinson said: “I don’t know how to answer that, because I always am optimistic that today is going to be the day that Bob comes home to his family, and because other people have gotten home to their families, while at this point, for us, that it’s not Bob, we’re happy for them. So I always hope that it’s going to be Bob’s turn.”

She emphasized that even 11 years later, it remains as important as ever to keep Robert Levinson’s name out there.

“I believe it’s important to keep Bob’s name in the press, and let people know that he is still not home with his family, and we need to make a priority to get him home, and find out what happened and where he is, and bring him home,” she said.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. CBS News contributed to this report.)