The family of Bob Levinson, who disappeared in 2007 on a mysterious trip to Iran, said Wednesday that U.S. intelligence had convinced them that he died in Iranian custody but that it was unclear when or how. It revealed that the word "judicial" in the apparent 2007 arrest order had been inadvertently omitted in the version originally given to the family. "They haven't told us that he's dead, but a lot of people are thinking that that's the case", he said.
"It's not looking great, but I won't accept that he's dead". The person said the information about Levinson had come from Iran's foreign minister.
Levinson's family said that it had learnt that he was dead, although it gave no information on how or when.
"We are going to spend the remainder of our lives ensuring of this, and the Iranian regime should know we is not going to be going away".
"His grandchildren will never meet him. They will know him only through the stories we tell them".
Levinson went missing in March 2007 after travelling to Kish, an Island controlled by Iran.
Sources have long told ABC News that bitter disagreements have existed for years inside the US intelligence community, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation less willing to assess their former comrade as having died a hostage than their counterparts at CIA, who reached that conclusion many years ago.
Other reports suggest he was working for the Central Intelligence Agency to recruit an Iranian spy. "The safe return of all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas remains a top priority of the Trump administration". Last week, administration officials touted the release from Lebanon of a New Hampshire restaurant owner jailed on decades-old allegations and the medical furlough of a Navy veteran from an Iranian prison.
Iranian officials steadfastly denied knowing anything about him, despite queries from the USA and requests through other countries that had better relations with Iran.
"Those who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, including those in the United States government who for many years repeatedly left him behind, will ultimately receive justice for what they have done".
The family added they did not know if or when his body would be returned.
President Trump said he had not been told that Levinson is dead but said "he wasn't well for years in Iran".
"He had some rough problems prior to his detainment or capture".
Around the same time, though, the White House's acting national intelligence director appeared to confirm Levinson's death with a tweeted statement conveying condolences to the family. And by the evening, the White House issued a new statement created to remove some of the uncertainty expressed by the president.
The statement comes in response to a White House statement saying that the USA administration believed Bob Levinson may have passed away "some time ago".
In 2010, a videotape of a haggard, bearded Levinson emerged by which he wore an orange jumpsuit of the kind worn by prisoners being held indefinitely on the United States naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Even then, his whereabouts and fate were not known.
Christine Levinson, left, her son, Daniel, and her sister Susan exit Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport on December 18, 2007 upon their arrival in Iran. The family of Robert Levinson filed a lawsuit in 2017, against Iran.
Tehran denied knowledge of Levinson's whereabouts until November past year when it acknowledged that there was an ongoing case involving him before its revolutionary court.