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Iran: Wife Of Missing American Seeks Information

An undated photo of Robert Levinson (Public domain) August 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The wife of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in March while on a business trip to Iran, says she might travel to Iran to search for him. Christine Levinson told RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari on August 17 that she is planning the trip even though the State Department has advised against it. Iranian authorities have reportedly denied any knowledge of Robert Levinson's whereabouts.

RFE/RL: Your husband disappeared in March while on a business trip to Iran. When was the last time you spoke to him?

Christine Levinson: I spoke to him on March 8 before he got on a flight from Dubai International Airport to Kish Island. And he did arrive there and checked into the hotel Maryam. And we haven't heard anything since then. He had told me he would not be available for about 24 hours, he would not have cell service or e-mail service, and he would call me when he got back to Dubai. By Friday afternoon [March 9] he had not called me. So I started to call his cell phone and to e-mail him and got no response. By Saturday [March 10] he was supposed to have flown from Dubai to London. And so Saturday morning, on March 10, when I got up I checked with the hotel in London and he had not arrived there. So then I called up the people in Dubai. They said he had not checked out of that hotel and the last we heard he was still on Kish Island.

"I really would hope that anybody who can give me any information anywhere, can get in touch with me through the website and if they don't have e-mail access, they can go to the Swiss Embassy because they have been helping us."

RFE/RL: Do you know if he had checked out of the hotel on Kish Island?

Levinson: No. My understanding is that he met someone there. And that person said that he himself was picked up to have his papers checked -- and that Bob was at the hotel when he left. When [that person] came back several hours later, he was told that Bob had left. He subsequently learned that Bob also had been picked up [by authorities who wanted] to check his papers. I was told this was not unusual, but we haven't heard anything since then.

RFE/RL: Dawud Salahuddin is the person who says he met your husband. Salahuddin is an American fugitive living in Iran since the 1980s when he allegedly murdered an Iranian opposition activist in the United States. Do you believe what he says? And did your husband mention that they were going to meet?

Levinson: I do believe he met with my husband. Bob had not mentioned that he was going to meet with this particular person. But that was not unusual. He didn't give me exact details of all his travel.

RFE/RL: What was the purpose of your husband's trip to Kish?

Levinson: The purpose of him going to Kish Island and talking to Dawud was to investigate cigarette smuggling for a couple of major corporations. He has his own business and he is a subcontractor. And so he does his investigations for people.

RFE/RL: Was he concerned about his safety while traveling to Iran? Did he mention anything to you?

Levinson: No. He was not.

RFE/RL: You have been contacting Iranian authorities about the disappearance of your husband. Have you received any response?

Levinson: No. I haven't received any response. I have asked them a number of questions. But I haven't received any answers yet. They just say they don't have information on him.

RFE/RL: Can you tell us which authorities you have contacted in Iran?

Levinson: I wrote a letter to the president of Iran and he has not replied back. I've also been in contact with the Iranian mission to the United Nations and spoken to someone there who has relayed messages for me to Tehran. And he has not received replies back from them. And I've also asked through the [U.S.] State Department. And they've gone through the Swiss to ask the Swiss to find out some answers for us and to ask the Iranians if they have information. So far, we have not gotten any information. We still have nothing since March 10 when we started looking for Bob.

RFE/RL: Do you think your husband is still In Iran -- even though Iranian authorities have not confirmed it?

Levinson: Yes I do. I believe he is in Iran because the last time he was seen was with this gentleman [Dawud Salahuddin]. And he has not been seen since. His passport has not been seen anywhere else. And he's not listed on any manifest to anywhere else.

RFE/RL: And did the Iranian authorities say that your husband left Iran?

Levinson: They believe he was in Iran. They have not given me any further details.

RFE/RL: Are you still planning to travel to Iran to search for your husband? Have you applied for a visa?

Levinson: I'm working on that. Actually, I'm hoping that Bob will come home before I have to do that. But I am in the process of working on going over to Iran if we don't get any more information about Bob.

RFE/RL: But the U.S. State Department has advised you not to travel to Iran.

Levinson: I'm just a wife looking for her missing husband. I understand that the State Department has advised me against it. But [I'm doing what] any other normal person would. My husband is missing and I want to find him any way I can.

RFE/RL: The past six months must have been very difficult for you and your seven children.

Levinson: They are. They [have been] very difficult. Two weeks ago was my youngest daughter's 17th birthday. I tried to make it a nice birthday for her. Even though it was a nice day, when it was time to go to bed she came to my room and started crying because she missed her father. That's just one example of what we are going through every day. Every day, we keep hoping that it will be the day he will be with us.

RFE/RL: This interview will be aired in Iran. What is your message to those who might have some information about your husband? What do you want to tell them and how can they get in touch with you?

Levinson: First of all, my husband is [1.83 meters tall]. When he left here, he weighed [about 130 kilograms]. He's a very outgoing man. He is 59 years old, so he would be a person that would normally speak to everyone. I believe he has talked to people over there. And I'm hoping that anyone who has seen him or heard anything about him will contact us on our website and give us any information they have.

RFE/RL: Meanwhile, will you continue to contact Iranian authorities?

Levinson: Yes. I am contacting them almost daily. I tried to get in touch with them and see whether they have any new information for me because I find it very difficult to believe that they can't find him. I really would hope that anybody who can give me any information anywhere, can get in touch with me through the website and if they don't have e-mail access, they can go to the Swiss Embassy because they have been helping us.

Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima

Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima