Wife, Children Wait in Agony for Information on Ex-FBI Agent Missing in Iran

It's been more than two and a half years since former FBI agent Robert Levinson vanished in Iran, an agonizing ordeal for his wife and for their seven children, who don't know if their father is dead or alive.

Levinson, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, disappeared in March 2007 while working as a private investigator on Iran's Kish Island. U.S. officials have indicated for months that the former agent may be alive and in the hands of Iranian authorities.

Levinson's family says it hopes recent nuke talks with the Iranians will help uncover information on his whereabouts.

"He's greatly missed," Levinson's wife, Christine, said in an interview with Foxnews.com. "We just want him home."

Levinson was working as an independent contractor for London-based Global Witness, an international non-governmental organization, in March 2007 when he was sent to Kish Island on on a 24-hour assignment in connection with a cigarette smuggling case.

He was last seen leaving the Hotel Miriam on the island and getting into a taxi to go to the airport.

Iranian state-run television reported that Levinson was in the hands of Iranian security forces — but no group has officially claimed responsiblity for taking him. American-born David Belfield, who fled to Iran after killing an associate of the former shah in Maryland in 1980 and now goes by the name Dawud Salahuddin, reportedly met with Levinson during his visit and later claimed the former agent was being detained by the Iranians.

The FBI confirmed to Foxnews.com that it has received unconfirmed reports of sightings of Levinson in the Islamic Republic.

Christine Levinson traveled to Iran in December 2007 to retrace her husband's footsteps and to meet with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran, as well as customs officials at the Kish Island airport. Iranian authorities assured Levinson they would conduct an internal investigation into her husband's disappearance and share their findings with her and the U.S. State Department.

"They haven’t contacted me since then," Levinson said, adding that she's tried, unsuccessfully, to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his last three visits to New York.

"They [the Iranians] said he'd get back to me if he was available, and that didn’t happen," she said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is doggedly pursuing information on Levinson, a resident and native of Coral Springs, who he believes is alive and being held in an Iranian prison.

Nelson said the recent nuke talks with the Iranians have created a valuable opportunity to press them on the issue.

"I believe Bob Levinson is in Iran — probably in a secret prison," Nelson said in an e-mail sent to Foxnews.com. "Now that Iran and the U.S. are resuming talks, I’m hopeful the Iranians will help find and release him."

Nelson encouraged the Obama administration to pass a note to the Iranians during a meeting in March, requesting information on Levinson and American journalist Roxana Saberi, who at the time was being detained on charges of espionage. The Iranians subsequently released Saberi, but reportedly offered no information on Levinson's whereabouts.

The State Department said it has been aggressively lobbying the issue with Iran, but it gave no word on whether Tehran had responded.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the matter, told Foxnews.com that U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns requested information on the welfare and whereabouts of Levinson during the Oct. 1 nuclear proliferation negotiations with the Iranians in Geneva.

"I don’t believe they got any immediate response," Christine Levinson told Foxnews.com.

Levinson has kept her husband's cell phone active, and said she calls it on special family occasions — like the Dec. 16, 2008, birth of the couple's granddaughter.

"I call his phone every once in a while just to hear his voice," she said.

Click here to see the Levinson family's Web site.