Posted by: Lister | April 17, 2007

Robert Levinson

ex-FBI agent missing in Iran.

US authorities have been anxiously seeking information about the former agent, Robert Levinson, for several weeks. The Iranian foreign ministry says it is trying to clarify his whereabouts. US officials suspect he is in Iranian detention.

European diplomats in Washington hesitate to describe Mr Levinson as a “hostage”, saying details of his case remain murky.

They are concerned that the US, Britain and Iran are stumbling into a new phase of tit-for-tat prisoner-taking that was kicked off when the US detained five Iranian officials in Iraq in January, sparking anger in Tehran.

The US State Department has revealed few details about Mr Levinson’s visit to Iran, insisting he was there on purely private business.

But Dawud Salahuddin, an American who converted to Islam and was given refuge in Iran in 1980, shed light on the mystery when he confirmed to the Financial Times in Tehran that he had met Mr Levinson in a hotel on Kish on March 8.

Mr Salahuddin, known in Iran as Hassan Abdulrahman, said he was detained by officials in plain clothes at 11pm and taken from the room he shared with Mr Levinson to be questioned about his Iranian passport. Mr Salahuddin was freed the next afternoon and told by the officials that Mr Levinson had flown back to Dubai.

Mr Salahuddin has admitted in interviews to killing Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former Iranian diplomat under the shah, in Maryland in 1980, shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

In the past he has expressed an interest in returning to the US to face justice.

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