The family of a retired FBI agent named Robert Levinson who has been missing since 2007 and thought to have been kidnapped in Iran has released a hostage video of an alive, but not well, Levinson begging for help.
Released Friday morning, 63-year-old Levinson is seen in the 54-second video and accompanying photos locked in a cell pleading for the U.S. government, who originally thought he was dead, to meet the demands necessary to bring him home.
Levinson said those holding him hostage are treating him well but he is not in very good health, as he suffers from diabetes.
I have been treated well. But I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me for three and a half years, a too-thin Levinson said in the video. And please help me get home. Thirty-three years of service to the United States deserves something.
While the video was just released Friday morning, the family told The AP they had received the hostage video in Nov. 2010 but The AP did not release it, as it would jeopardize Levinson's chances of getting home.
The investigation to locate Mr. Levinson continues, as the U.S. government continues to work to find him and bring him home safely, FBI spokeswoman Jacqueline Maguire said in a statement.
So Levinson's wife Christine released it herself via the family's Web site on Friday along with another direct message to her husband since U.S. efforts have stalled amidst the poor relations with Iran.
According to the Daily Mail, the U.S. government has treated the hostage situation as a diplomatic issue and has not had concrete knowledge of his whereabouts. However, the government's theory was that Levinson was arrested by Iranian officials for interrogation and is being held as a pawn.
Back in March, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pleaded to Iran in efforts to bring him home safely. Iran officials have said they know nothing of Levinson being held hostage and have helped in the investigation. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in September Iran had some success in the investigation, The AP reported.
However, right after Clinton's plea, the family received photos of Levinson in an orange jumpsuit holding various signs, one which read Why you can not help me, according to The Daily Mail, which resembled photos of detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
Levinson, a retired private investigator for the FBI, was on a trip in Kish Island just a few miles from the coast of Iran to investigate cigarette smuggling in 2007 when he went missing.
The video brings new hope, as many believed Levinson was dead, though U.S. gained word he was alive earlier this year. However, new clues have emerged over the five years that Levinson is being held in either Pakistan or Afghanistan based on the IP address the hostage video was sent from, though the U.S. does not have his exact whereabouts.
However, the video released on Friday was routed through an address in Pakistan with Pashtun wedding music was playing faintly. Pashtun people live in an area between Pakistan and Afghanistan around eastern Iran and are mostly terrorist groups.
Some believe those holding Levinson hostage, whom he refers to as a group, are using other IP addresses to route the videos and photos and play the blame game.
The AP reported that the video also came with a set of demands for the U.S. release particular prisoners, though the government does not have those people in custody.
The video also has a direct message from Robert Levinson to his family. Christine Levinson released a statement along with the video through their son David, one of many in the five years he's been missing.
I am making a plea to the people that are holding my father. My mother has received your messages. Please tell us your demands so we can work together to bring my father home safely. Thank you for taking care of my father and for continuing to provide him with the care and medical treatment he needs to stay alive, David Levinson said.
We are not part of the government. And we are not experts on the region. No one can help us but you. Please help us. We tried to contact you but you never responded. I am sending this message because we need to know what you want our family to do so that my father can come home safely. We will do everything within our power to bring him home. Please tell us what you want.