Missing ex-FBI agent engaged in CIA mission

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Originally published on December 13, 2013

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson who disappeared from Kish Island in Iran over six years ago had been engaged in a CIA mission.

Levinson had been paid to gather intelligence privately for CIA agents.

Levinson's last known whereabouts was Kish Island, a tourist spot off the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf. On March 8, 2007, he arrived on Kish Island from Dubai and checked into the Maryam Hotel and reportedly talked for hours to source Dawud Salahuddin, a wanted fugitive for shooting an Iranian dissident.

Levinson checked out of the hotel the next day, and was not seen again after departing on a taxi. Footage of an emaciated Levinson wearing an orange prison-style jumpsuit sent to his family in December 2010 is the last living proof of this former agent. His whereabouts are still unknown today.

For many years following his disappearance, the U.S. has publicly stated that Levinson was a businessman on a private trip to Kish Island. But it emerged that no authority had been overseeing the spy operations that Levinson had been conducting. He had been corresponding with CIA analyst Anne Jablonski through personal email accounts, and had been asked to send all documents and packages to the analyst's home in Virginia.

This case turned out to be one of the most serious breaches of CIA rules, and three veteran agents had been forced to resign from the agency in secret. The CIA had also paid Levinson's family $2.5 million to prevent them from filing lawsuit.

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