“I thought after nine years that they would have enough respect for our family to at least tell us in advance that this is happening,” Christine Levinson, the former FBI agent’s wife, told ABC News. “It could have been five minutes, but to find out on the TV for the whole family…was wrong. It was absolutely devastating.”
“I’m very disappointed. I feel extremely betrayed by them,” she said.
In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world’s darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian government for the U.S.
The CIA was slow to respond to Levinson’s disappearance and spent the first several months denying any involvement. When Congress eventually discovered what happened, one of the biggest scandals in recent CIA history erupted.
Behind closed doors, three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined. The CIA paid Levinson’s family $2.5 million to pre-empt a revealing lawsuit, and the agency rewrote its rules restricting how analysts can work with outsiders.
But even after the White House, FBI and State Department officials learned of Levinson’s CIA ties, the official story remained unchanged.
“It’s bad enough that we weren’t notified, but he wasn’t included in the deal and that’s never going to be enough and the least they could do is follow up with us and tell us the steps that they’re taking now,” Levinson’s son, Dan, told ABC.
“We’re hoping to meet with President Obama, Secretary Kerry and other administration officials because the least they can do is explain to us, and we can talk to them face-to-face about what needs to be done on their end, on our end…what can be done.”
On Sunday, Secretary John Kerry tweeted that, as part of the prisoner swap, “Iran also agreed to deepen our coordination as we work to locate Robert Levinson. We won’t rest until the Levinson family is whole again.”
In a statement, the FBI said, “Bob forever remains part of the FBI family, and we remain committed to bringing him home safely to the family who misses him so much. The FBI expects our Iranian counterparts to fulfill their commitment to locate Bob and help bring him home safely.”
The Iranian government denies even knowing where Levinson is.