Ex-F.B.I. Agent Who Vanished on C.I.A. Mission to Iran Is Likely Dead, U.S. Concludes


The Iranian government has never admitted abducting Mr. Levinson, who would have turned 72 this month. On March 9, the anniversary of his disappearance, the F.B.I. said: “During the past 13 years, the only credible evidence of responsibility in Mr. Levinson’s disappearance has pointed to those working for the government of Iran.”

The family thanked the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel; the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray; and Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser, in its statement. They were all in the White House meeting when the family was told, the person said.

After retiring from the F.B.I. as a veteran investigator of drug cartels and organized crime, Mr. Levinson began working with C.I.A. analysts in a highly unusual arrangement. Though they had no authority to run spy operations, they paid him to gather intelligence, including on the Iranian government.

Mr. Levinson disappeared from Kish Island, off the coast of Iran, on March 9, 2007. He had traveled to Kish to investigate corruption and was trying to renew his C.I.A. contract.

After he disappeared, the C.IA. played down any relationship with Mr. Levinson and said he was not a current employee. For years, United States officials would only say that Mr. Levinson was working for a private firm on his trip when he vanished.

But thanks chiefly to the efforts of the Levinson family and of former Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, where Mr. Levinson and his wife lived, the truth about his relationship with the C.I.A. slowly emerged. Over time, Mr. Levinson’s family made repeated efforts either directly or through intermediaries to learn about his fate. His wife, Christine, and son Dan traveled to Tehran and to Kish Island.

After an internal investigation, the C.I.A. disciplined 10 employees, including the three veteran analysts who were forced to leave the agency. The C.I.A. eventually paid Mr. Levinson’s family a $2.5 million annuity and an additional $120,000, the cost of renewing Mr. Levinson’s contract. Both sides wanted to avoid a lawsuit that would publicly reveal details of the arrangement.



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