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Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who has been missing since 2007 when he took a trip to Iran, was actually on an unapproved CIA mission, a report by the Associated Press on Thursday says. The story from the CIA - that he was a private citizen visiting the country - was just a cover story, according to the report.
The Associated Press reported that Levinson had gone to Kish Island, an Iranian resort that was not just a place for tourists, but a home for organized crime as well. There, he met with a killer, then checked out of his hotel. He went into a taxi and has not been seen since.
However, the story that he was just a private citizen was a cover. In reality, according to the AP, Levinson had gone to Iran on a CIA mission ordered by a group of analysts who didn’t have the authority to make such a move. He was paid to gather information from the underworld.
When he went missing, it started one of the biggest CIA scandals in its history, but it was all kept out of the public eye. Congress found out and three analysts were fired. It was revealed that the CIA paid Levinson’s family $2.5 million just to avoid a lawsuit and then the agency wrote new rules about what analysts can do with insiders.
The AP says that it has been looking into Levinson’s CIA links since 2010 and had interviewed several officials and reviewed documents. According to the report, there hasn’t been any signs that he is still alive since the family saw video and photos in early 2011 and some officials even believe that he is dead.
“There are those in the U.S. government who have done their duty in their efforts to find Bob, but there are those who have not,” Levinson’s family said in a statement to NBC News. “It is time for the U.S. government to step up and take care of one of its own. After nearly seven years, our family should not be struggling to get through each day without this wonderful, caring, man that we love so much.”
The CIA has not commented and AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll later issued another statement explaining their decision to run the story.
“This story reveals serious mistakes and improper actions inside the U.S. government’s most important intelligence agency,” she said. “Those actions, the investigation and consequences have all been kept secret from the public.”