A Simple Plea: “Return My Father”

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/26/opinion/la-oe-levinson-father-iran-20111226

Op-Ed


Five years after Robert Levinson disappeared near Iran, his family believes he is being held somewhere in southwest Asia. In November 2010, the family received a video showing him asking for help.

December 26, 2011|By Dan Levinson

It is approaching five years since my father, Robert “Bob” Levinson, disappeared on Kish Island off the coast of Iran in March 2007. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that my family had received proof my father is alive and is believed to be held somewhere in southwest Asia. Earlier this month, my family released that proof, a video we received in November 2010 of my father pleading for help. We had kept it private in order not to jeopardize the FBI’s continuing investigation into his disappearance.

Our family had mixed emotions on receiving that video. We were ecstatic to receive confirmation of what we had always believed to be true, that my father is alive and unable to contact us. We also learned that my father is living the worst nightmare imaginable — away from his wife, seven children and two grandchildren, in poor health and unable to come home.

My father worked for the FBI for 22 years. Before joining the FBI he worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration for six years. He had been retired for 10 years and was working as a private investigator at the time of his disappearance. Those who are holding him must have surely realized this by now. When he was with the FBI, my father worked to keep drugs off America’s streets and to put members of organized crime in prison. He was on his first trip to the region — to Dubai and Kish Island — working on behalf of several large corporations to investigate the smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes. My father was working to provide for our large family.

Nothing in our lives can replace the emptiness and utter despair of knowing that someone we love is out there, suffering and wanting nothing more than to come home. I speak for my entire family when I say that, no matter how much we try to enjoy something and continue living our lives, there is always the feeling of knowing our father is somewhere in southwest Asia living a nightmare. He is a good, decent man who does not deserve to be treated this way.

We have been grateful for the cooperation of the government of Iran ever since my father’s disappearance, and respectfully ask for its continued assistance. Since our father went missing while in Iran, I imagine it would also have an interest in knowing what happened to him.

My family also appreciated the public offer of cooperation extended by the Islamic Republic of Iran in September. In an interview while visiting the United Nations in New York, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters regarding my father’s case: “I think there was good collaboration between the intelligence apparatus in both countries. I think we have reached concrete results — good results — and it would be good if such collaboration continues.” My family and I couldn’t agree more.

Right now there appears to be no common ground regarding any issues between Iran and the U.S., and my father is caught in the middle. It is my hope that the two countries can use their collaboration on locating my father and returning him safely to his family as a foundation to build on. I believe that bringing my father home could have a significant positive effect on U.S.-Iran relations.

Our family has no idea where my father is being held. We have no idea who is holding my father. I am writing this in hopes it will reach his captors. My simple message to them is this: Please, please, return my father to his family. Let us know what you want from us. Let us know how we can bring him home. We can be contacted at http://www.helpboblevinson.com.

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