WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials have concluded that Robert A. Levinson, the retired F.B.I. agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 on an unauthorized mission for the C.I.A., died while in Iranian custody, his family announced on Wednesday.
Newly revealed intelligence pointed to Mr. Levinson’s death, top national security officials told his relatives inside White House Situation Room in recent weeks, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The officials provided strong evidence that Mr. Levinson had died sometime in the past several years, the person said, but did not detail the proof.
“We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody,” Mr. Levinson’s family wrote in a statement on Facebook. “We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mr. Levinson was the longest-held hostage in American history, according to the F.B.I. His disappearance caused a major scandal inside the C.I.A. after lawmakers discovered what happened, but it was kept quiet. Three longtime analysts were forced out, others disciplined and agency rules rewritten.
But the C.I.A. and other government officials never publicly acknowledged that Mr. Levinson was working for the agency even as friends and family confirmed it. Had they never uncovered his work, the secret might have died with Mr. Levinson.
The intelligence community’s assessment that Mr. Levinson is no longer alive puts to rest a question that has haunted his family for years. But it still remains unclear how and when Mr. Levinson died.
The Iranian government has never admitted abducting Mr. Levinson. This month, he would have turned 72.
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.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.
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