Seven years ago, Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran. Now, his family claims he was, in fact, working for the CIA when he went missing.
CHRISTINE LEVINSON: "He was working as a consultant for the CIA. … He was also a private investigator. He was able to do both at the same time in his travels." (Via CBS)
A hotel registry shows Levinson, a retired FBI agent thought to be working for a private security firm, checked out of his hotel room on the Iranian resort island of Kish in March 2007. (Via FBI)
Since then, there have been no sightings of Levinson, aside from this proof-of-life video, along with photos, sent to Levinson's wife a few years ago. (Via HelpBobLevinson.com)
In December, The Washington Post reported Levinson was working as an independent CIA contractor on an unapproved mission when he disappeared.
That directly contradicted what the U.S. government and Levinson's family had long maintained — that Levinson was a private citizen who disappeared while on a private business trip.
JAY CARNEY: "Bob Levinson was not a U.S. government employee when he went missing in Iran." (Via The White House)
But the family is now saying otherwise:
"Why didn't you say what you knew at the very start?"
"We were told by the U.S. government that revealing what he really was doing over there would be harmful to his safety." (Via CNN)
Levinson's wife and son are now urging the U.S. to publicly admit Levinson was a government agent, insisting it's the best shot they have at bringing him home — which could prove difficult. (Via The White House / Pete Souza)
The New York Times reported in December that U.S. officials believe "Iranians view him as a spy and that he was being held by a group tied to Iranian religious leaders, possibly the Revolutionary Guards."
That was never confirmed by the Obama administration, though here's what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC last year:
KERRY: "I think the Iranian government — I can't tell you what happened or how the sequence was, but I think the Iranian government has the ability to help us here."
For their part, Iranian officials have flatly denied knowing anything about Levinson's whereabouts.