WASHINGTON -- The wife of a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran in March 2007 says she plans to visit Tehran in the coming weeks to push the authorities there harder to try and find her husband.
Christine Levinson said after meeting a senior State Department official that she still had no credible news about her husband, Robert Levinson, who vanished in March last year while on a business trip to Iran's Persian Gulf island of Kish.
"There are a lot of theories floating around, but we have no concrete information," she told Reuters after seeing the State Department's No. 3 official, William Burns, who handles the nuclear and other dossiers concerning Iran.
But Levinson is convinced her husband is alive.
"I have never heard anything bad and I believe if something bad had happened, by now we would have heard something," she said.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack urged the Iranian authorities to share any information they might have about Levinson's whereabouts.
"Mr. Levinson, a father of seven with a second grandchild on the way, has now been missing for 16 months. We still do not have definitive information about his welfare or whereabouts," McCormack said in a statement.
The State Department has made several appeals to Iran for information about the former FBI agent via the Swiss government. Switzerland handles U.S. interests in Iran as Washington has no diplomatic ties with Tehran.
Levinson and her son Daniel visited Iran last December and met police, officials from the Foreign Ministry and others they believe might have information about her husband. They came home empty-handed.
She said the next visit was aimed at following up to see if officials had uncovered any new leads. In addition, they hoped to meet President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"They said their religion requires them to help all people and they would continue to investigate.... That was over seven months ago and we still have not heard anything," she said.
Bob Levinson retired from the FBI a decade ago and his wife said he told her he was going to Kish to investigate counterfeiting and smuggling of cigarettes for a client, most likely a tobacco company.
'We Would Know'
The United States is at loggerheads with Tehran on a range of issues, from what Washington sees as Iran's meddling in Iraq to a nuclear program the West suspects is aimed at building an atomic bomb.
Christine Levinson said she did not believe her husband's disappearance was linked to the nuclear issue or politics.
"If they were using him as a bargaining chip on the nuclear issue, we would know," she said.
Levinson called his wife on March 8 before boarding a plane from Dubai to Kish. He told her he had left most of his luggage at a Dubai hotel and would be back within 24 hours.
When he did not call two days later on March 10, his 59th birthday, Levinson said she knew there was a problem.
Levinson said she was concerned about her husband's health. He suffers from diabetes, hypertension, and gout.
"No matter what, I am going to continue to search for Bob for as long as it takes. This is my job," she said.