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U.S. Presses Iran On Cases Of Two Americans

Christine Levinson, wife of Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since March 2007
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The United States has criticized Iran for ignoring pleas for information over missing ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson and also urged the release of an Iranian-American reporter jailed on charges of spying.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Levinson's wife at the State Department in Washington and reassured her the United States was still seeking information from Iran over the whereabouts of her husband, Clinton's spokesman said.

"This case is obviously a very heart-wrenching humanitarian one. We continue to call on Iran to provide information about Mr. Levinson. It has not been forthcoming," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters. "We're going to continue to press this issue."

Levinson went missing in March 2007 while on a business trip to Iran's Kish island. His wife has not heard from him since and U.S. government efforts, mostly via Swiss intermediaries, have also been fruitless.

While attending a conference in The Hague at the end of March, U.S. diplomats gave a letter, or aide-memoire, to Iran's delegation that requested information about Levinson and for Iranian-American reporter Roxana Saberi to be freed.

Wood said Iran had not yet responded to the letter.

"We're still pressing and will continue to press," he said.

Christine Levinson, who also met FBI director Robert Mueller while in Washington to discuss her husband's case, appealed to Iran's government to follow up on her request for information, adding that it was her 35th wedding anniversary on May 4.

"I am hoping they will send Bob home to me," Levinson, who lives in Florida, told Reuters.

In the case of jailed reporter Saberi, Wood said the United States was very concerned about her health following reports she was on a hunger strike.

"It's very troubling. And we're working hard to try to do what we can," Wood said.

Iran's judiciary said on May 5 that a court hearing would be held next week on the appeal of Saberi's eight-year jail term for spying for the United States.

The United States has called the charges against her baseless and demanded her immediate release. Saberi has worked as a freelance journalist for the BBC and National Public Radio.