Former FBI agent Robert Levinson's family has said that he died in Iranian custody. Levinson went missing in 2007.
The family of a former FBI agent who disappeared in 2007 said on Wednesday that he died in Iranian custody.
Robert Levinson's family made the announcement based on information from US officials.
US President Donald Trump did not confirm Levinson's death. He said that he had not received any word from Iran about the agent's death.
"I won't accept that he's dead," Trump told journalists after the family's announcement, adding that it wasn't "looking great."
However, his national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said he believed Levinson "may have passed away some time ago".
Levison's family made the announcement in a statement posted on a website called 'Help Bob Levinson'.
"We recently received information from US officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody. We don't know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement read.
They said that it was "impossible to describe" their pain and they would make sure that those responsible, "including those in the US government who for many years repeatedly left him behind" receive justice.
"His body has not yet been returned to us for a proper burial. We don't even know when, or even if, his body would be returned to us. This is the very definition of cruelty," they said in the statement.
Levinson went missing in March 2007 after travelling to Kish, an Island controlled by Iran. He was reportedly looking for information on the alleged corruption involving the former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and his family members, as a private investigator.
The Washington Post reported in 2013 that Levinson, who had retired from the FBI, was working for the Central Intelligence Agency.
A media outlet affiliated with the Iranian government had said in a story that Levinson was "in the hands of Iranian security forces" but the Iranian government never acknowledged it had a hand in his disappearance.
dvv/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)