One Year After Ex-FBI Agent Disappeared in Iran, His Wife Still Struges to Know What Happened

The wife of a missing former FBI agent said Tuesday she hired a lawyer in Iran to try to persuade authorities there to investigate her husband's disappearance almost a year ago.

Christine Levinson said she has received no information on the location of Robert Levinson, who turns 60 on Monday. He was last seen March 8 on the Iranian island of Kish, where he had gone to seek information on cigarette smuggling for a client of his security firm.

Her lawyer in Iran filed papers on Feb. 17 asking Kish authorities to open an official investigation, she said. Levinson said she will travel to Washington to speak with State Department officials Thursday.

"I try to leave everyone alone to let them do their investigation," she said. "Because the United States doesn't have a relationship with the country of Iran, it's very difficult, especially for me because I can't travel there as freely as I'd like."

The U.S. has sent a number of diplomatic notes appealing for information and cooperation from the Iranian government, the most recent on Dec. 12. The Swiss ambassador to Tehran, who represents U.S. interests in Iran, also raises the case at every opportunity, State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said.

"Iranian authorities have consistently claimed they have no information on the whereabouts of Mr. Levinson and we continue to urge the Iranians to cooperate fully and share the details of their investigation with the Levinsons and with the Swiss," he said.

Mohammad Mir Ali Mohammadi, spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission, said there was no new information in Levinson's case. "Iran has done whatever it could to help the family of Mr. Levinson," he said.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Christine Levinson's meeting with State Department officials was part of ongoing and regular discussions. "I don't think at this point I know of any new information concerning his case," he said.

Christine Levinson traveled to Iran in December with her son and sister. She said Iranian officials told her they had sent a high-level delegation to Kish to ask about her husband.

"What they told me was that they were there to express sympathy for the family," she said. "There was no paperwork."

Levinson said the Iranian officials said "they would continue to look for Bob because their religion requires them to help all people."

Iranian officials told her they would give her the final report of their investigation when they were done, but she left Iran on Dec. 23 and hasn't heard anything from them since, she said.

While she was in Iran, Christine Levinson retraced her husband's steps and met with airport officials and members of the hotel staff where he stayed before he disappeared.

"Everyone I talked to believes he got into a cab. I wasn't able to find who the taxi driver was," she said.

She said she doesn't know what her husband was doing on Kish and wasn't involved in his work. He was an FBI agent in New York and Florida until he retired in 1998.

"He separated work from personal. So, I was not involved in his business," she said. "He had a lot of clients in the tobacco industry, but he was subcontractor."

On Sunday, the Levinsons will stage a rally to mark the first anniversary of his disappearance.

Levinson, who has seven children ranging from the ages of 14 to 30, said she copes one day at a time.

"Every morning I hope it will be the day I hear he is on his way home," she said.