NEW YORK—For the nearly seven years Robert Levinson has been missing, his wife has backed the U.S. government’s claim that Levinson was kidnapped in Iran while working as a private detective investigating cigarette smuggling.
But on Tuesday, for the first time, Christine Levinson confirmed her husband Bob was also working for U.S. intelligence.
“He was working as a consultant for the CIA,” she told CBS News. “He was also a private investigator. He was able to do both at the same time in his travels.”
Christine Levinson confirmed that as her husband worked on private initiatives, he would also funnel information to the CIA from time to time.
Her lawyer, David McGee, said the U.S. government should make a similar public admission to Iran in a bid to win Levinson’s release.
“There is no further value in continuing to deny what everyone in the world knows to be the truth,” McGee said.
McGee added it was their hope that if the U.S. would say Levinson worked for the CIA, the admission might be enough of a show of good faith that the Iranians would respond.
Levinson has had no direct contact with his family since his capture in March 2007. In 2010, documents detailing Levinson’s “arrest and detention in Iran” were anonymously emailed to his wife, who later received pictures and a short videotape.
The video sparked hope he’d soon be released.
“Leads were followed up, and investigations were made, but we have not gotten any new information about Bob,” Christine Levinson says, noting there were no further videos or photos from Iran.
Intelligence sources agree Levinson is likely alive and still in Iran—but for now, still out of reach.
“I love my husband,” Christine Levinson says. “I believe that wherever he is, he is trying as hard as he can to get back to his family.”
The Iranians have not publicly admitted they are holding Levinson, but his family is hoping improving U.S. and Iranian relations over the nuclear issue may provide an opportunity for some kind of prisoner trade. Christine Levinson intends to travel to Iran to make a personal plea.
In response to Christine Levinson’s comments, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement:
“Since Bob Levinson disappeared, the U.S. government has vigorously pursued and continues to pursue all investigative leads. President Obama raised Bob’s case in his phone call with President Rouhani in September, and Secretary Kerry has also raised Bob’s case directly with Iran’s foreign minister. We continue to be focused on doing everything we can to bring Bob home safely to his family. This remains a top priority of the U.S. government. We reiterate our request to the Government of Iran to work cooperatively with us to ensure that Bob returns safely to his family.”