The United States Treasury sanctioned two senior Iranian intelligence officers Monday for their role in the probable death of former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent Robert Levinson.
Senior U.S. government officials told reporters during a Monday morning briefing on the sanctions that Mohammad Baseri and Ahmad Khazai, both senior officers at Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, were directly involved in the abduction, detention and subsequent coverup of Levinson’s death. They would not elaborate on how they had made that determination in order to protect classified sources but said that it “has been a process that we have been moving toward” for 13 years. (RELATED: ‘I Don’t Accept That He’s Dead’ — Trump Denies Death Of Ex-FBI Agent Held Hostage In Iran)
Levinson vanished while visiting Iran’s Kish Island in March of 2007. His detention marked the longest such period Iran had ever held an American prisoner, and in March 2020, his family and the U.S. government declared that he had likely died in captivity. A U.S. judge ordered in October of 2020 that Iran pay $1.45 billion to Levinson’s family, and the U.S. government has issued a $20 million reward since 2012 for any information surrounding the case.
Monday’s sanctions mark the first time that any Iranian officials have been specifically named in the Levinson case.
A senior U.S. government official added during Monday’s briefing that the designation “puts the abduction squarely on the shoulders of the Iranian regime” and is “long overdue.”
“We are still working hard to bring him home and bring closure and justice to his family,” the official stated. “There should never be an agreement negotiated with Iran ever again,” that does not include “the return home of all Americans unjustly detained in that country.”
“Since the beginning of this Administration, President Trump has made it clear that Iran will be held accountable for its use of detention and hostage taking as a tool of “diplomacy” and that the United States will no longer accept Iranian excuses for what we know they have done to Mr. Levinson,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of Monday’s announcement. “No family should ever endure the pain the Levinson family has for nearly 14 years. Iran is responsible and can end this nightmare by answering questions for which only they hold the answers. Any future talks with Iran must include resolution to this case. We stand by the Levinson family, and we will never cease in our efforts to bring justice for Bob and his family.”
President Donald Trump had previously denied that Levinson had died in captivity.
“I don’t accept it,” Trump said at a press briefing in March. “I don’t accept that he’s dead.”
This is a developing story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.