Disappearing Spy C.i.a.

December 15, 2013 by  

Disappearing Spy C.i.a., His family and friends, and eventually, the US government, have spent years trying to find him.

Robert A. Levinson was an overweight bear of a man who once worked as an FBI agent and desperately wanted to recapture the life of international intrigue he relished as an expert on Russian organized crime. But as he sat in a hotel room in Geneva in early 2007, he was anxious about a secret mission he had planned to Iran.

“I guess as I approach my fifty-ninth birthday on the 10th of March, and after having done quite a few other crazy things in my life,” he wrote in an email to a friend, “I am questioning just why, at this point, with seven kids and a great wife, why would I put myself in such jeopardy.”

He would like some assurance, he added, that “I’m not going to wind up someplace where I really don’t want to be at this stage of my life.”

Levinson gambled and traveled to an island off the Iranian coast to meet with a U.S. fugitive he hoped to turn into his informant. There, his worst fears were realized – he disappeared and has since been seen only as a prisoner in a video that emerged about three years ago and in photographs showing him dressed like a Guantanamo detainee, in orange garb.

Since his disappearance in March 2007, U.S. officials have publicly insisted that Levinson went to Iran as a private investigator working on a cigarette smuggling case. In fact, he was also a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency. As the real purpose of his mission became known within the government, it led to a scandal within the CIA in which three agency officials lost their jobs, for, in effect, using Levinson as part of an unauthorized spying operation.

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