Iran is acknowledging for the first time it has an open case before its Revolutionary Court over the 2007 disappearance of a former FBI agent on an unauthorized CIA mission to the country.
In a filing to the United Nations, Iran said the case over Robert Levinson was ‘on going,’ without elaborating, but the development has renewed questions over what happened to him.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long the case had been open, nor the circumstances by which it started.
However, it comes amid a renewed push to find him with an offer of $20 million for information from the Trump administration amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.
The money is in addition to $5 million that had been earlier offered by the FBI.
The Associated Press on Saturday obtained the text of Iran’s filing to the U.N.’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
‘According to the last statement of Tehran’s Justice Department, Mr. Robert Alan Levinson has an on going case in the Public Prosecution and Revolutionary Court of Tehran,’ the filing said.
Iran’s Revolutionary Court typically handles espionage cases and others involving smuggling, blasphemy and attempts to overthrow its Islamic government.
Westerners and Iranian dual nationals with ties to the West often find themselves tried and convicted in closed-door trials in these courts, only later to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations.
Iran’s mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and its state media has not acknowledged the case. The U.S. State Department did not respond to a request for comment about Iran’s acknowledgement.
The Washington Post first reported on the ongoing case. Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island on March 9, 2007.
For years, U.S. officials would only say that Levinson, a meticulous FBI investigator credited with busting Russian and Italian mobsters, was working for a private firm on his trip.
In December 2013, the AP revealed Levinson in fact had been on a mission for CIA analysts who had no authority to run spy operations.
Levinson’s family had received a $2.5 million annuity from the CIA in order to stop a lawsuit revealing details of his work, while the agency forced out three veteran analysts and disciplined seven others.
He was pictured in a series of images obtained by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty group which handed them over to Levinson’s wife Christine in April 2011, who opted not to release them at that time. One of the photos show him wearing an orange jumpsuit and chains holding a sign that read: ‘This is the result of 30 years serving for USA.’
It is not clear how Radio Liberty came into possession of the photos, taken after Levison was taken hostage.