(WASHINGTON) — The family of a former FBI agent, who disappeared in Iran while on an unsanctioned operation for the CIA, is demanding a meeting with the new head of the FBI, James Comey, the family’s lawyer told ABC News.
Florida attorney David McGee, spokesperson for the Robert Levinson family, said the family feels Levinson’s government has abandoned him after nearly three decades of service and nearly seven years in captivity.
“Rather than acknowledge what they had done and try to and save Bob’s life, [the U.S. government] denied him,” McGee told ABC News in a previous interview.
Robert Levinson, a 65-year-old grandfather, disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island in 2007, only to appear in disturbing “proof-of-life” videos and images in 2010 and 2011. U.S. officials have long suspected the involvement of the Iranian government in Levinson’s disappearance, even as Iranian leaders repeatedly promised to provide any assistance they can in locating and rescuing him.
Last week, to the anger of the Levinson family and over the objections of the FBI and the White House, The Associated Press and The Washington Post reported Levinson was in Kish Island while working on an unauthorized intelligence-gathering mission for the CIA, with whom he worked as a private contractor.
ABC News, along with several news organizations, was aware of Levinson’s CIA ties for years, but held off on reporting it at the request of U.S. officials and Levinson’s family, who feared the revelations could put his life in grave danger.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the recent reports “highly irresponsible,” but declined to address the CIA ties directly last week except to repeatedly note that Levinson was not “an employee of the U.S. government” when he went missing.
McGee said that to date, the family believes it has received little more than lip service from officials at the FBI and in the Obama administration.
“They’ve repeatedly told the family they’re going to do everything they can, but we’ve not seen that translated into action by the government,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who said he has personally raised Levinson’s case with high-level Iranian officials, spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday about Iran’s nuclear program. A State Department summary of the conversation made no mention of Levinson.
In a statement last week, the FBI said, “The investigation into Bob’s disappearance continues, as the U.S. government remains committed to finding him and bringing him home safely to his family,” but declined to comment further.
McGee said he was previously told by FBI agents assigned to the case that the FBI was aware the CIA had hid its connection to Levinson, but said there was nothing they could do about it.
“…[They] passed on word that we should just drop the issue and go away,” McGee recounted. “Leave Bob in Iran.”
“He’s 65 years old. He’s diabetic. He doesn’t have that many years left,” McGee said.
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday on the family’s demand to meet with Comey, who has been in the job since September 2013.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN