U.S. has signs ex-FBI agent held in southwest Asia

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 10:11 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it has received recent signs Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, who disappeared in Iran in March 2007, is being held in southwest Asia and appealed to Tehran to help release him.

"We have received recent indications that Bob is being held somewhere in southwest Asia," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a brief statement.

"As the government of Iran has previously offered its assistance in this matter, we respectfully request the Iranian government to undertake humanitarian efforts to safely return and reunite Bob with his family," she added. "We would appreciate the Iranian government's efforts in this matter."

The statement, issued nearly four years after Levinson disappeared during a visit to Iran's Kish island, provided no further detail or where he might be held or on why the United States sought Iranian help to secure his release.

The statement also did not define what it meant by the term "southwest Asia." The United States cut diplomatic relations with Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and ties are strained by many issues, including U.S. accusations that Iran may be pursuing nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian atomic program. Iran denies this.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, editing by Anthony Boadle)