Wife Seeks Husband Who Vanished in Iran Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent now working for a private security firm, disappeared more than a year ago while tracking a case to the Iranian resort island of Kish. His wife, Christine, explains a long and agonizing effort to get some answers.
NPR logo

Wife Seeks Husband Who Vanished in Iran

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/88131543/88131509" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Wife Seeks Husband Who Vanished in Iran

Wife Seeks Husband Who Vanished in Iran

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/88131543/88131509" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ALISON STEWART, host:

This week marks Robert Levinson's 60th birthday. Instead of having a party, his family had a rally in their hometown of Coral Springs, Florida. You see, it's been just over a year since Christine Levinson has heard from a man she married 33 years ago. Robert, a retired FBI agent, now working for a private security firm, was on the Iranian resort island of Kish to conduct an interview. On March 9th, 2007, he checked out of his hotel, and got into a cab. He hasn't been seen since. Robert's wife has enlisted the help of the State Department, and she even traveled to Iran herself to see what she could find, all while keeping life going at home for herself, and her seven children. Christine Levinson is on the phone with us now. Nice to speak with you.

Mrs. CHRISTINE LEVINSON (Wife of missing former FBI agent Robert Levinson): Thank you.

STEWART: You have been very pro-active in this search for your husband. Mrs. Levinson, what was the latest development on your end?

Mrs. LEVINSON: We still do not have any information about my husband. I have been trying to encourage the Iranian government to give me any answers that they have found. I went there three months ago. They promised in the name of their religion to continue in search for my husband, but I have not heard anything since then.

STEWART: You traveled to Iran in December, correct?

Mrs. LEVINSON: Yes.

STEWART: When you got there, to whom did you speak?

Mrs. LEVINSON: I spoke to several representatives of the Iranian government. One was from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the other was the immigration police - one of the police officers. Both of them expressed sympathy to the family, but told me they had no information, and they would continue their search.

STEWART: So, they really didn't share anything. Did you glean any small detail?

Mrs. LEVINSON: Well, I actually went to Kish Island, and I did see the hotel register that showed that he checked in, and that he checked out. And I know that because he has a very unique signature, and I was able to see that on the register.

STEWART: Do you have any plans to return to Iran?

Mrs. LEVINSON: I will return to Iran if I need to. Right now, I have hired an Iranian investigator - lawyer - so that he could look into this legally, because I wanted to make sure that the Iranian government knew that I was trying to do everything I could to find my husband.

STEWART: I'm sure, at this point. I have this question. I'm imagining our listeners have this question. What about the U.S. State Department? Have they been able to get involved? Have they been able to get you any kind of answers?

Mrs. LEVINSON: Well, actually, no. The United States government does not have a formal relationship with the country of Iran.

STEWART: Right.

Mrs. LEVINSON: And so it's been very difficult. Everything they've done has had to go through the Swiss. The Swiss have been very helpful. They've done all that they could to keep the pressure on the Iranians to give us information about my husband.

STEWART: Now, your husband had retired from the FBI, and was in Iran on a private security contract.

Mrs. LEVINSON: Right.

STEWART: Are you sure he wasn't doing work for the U.S. government?

Mrs. LEVINSON: I have no information that leads me to believe that he was doing anything for the U.S. government.

STEWART: When was the last time you spoke to your husband?

Mrs. LEVINSON: The actual day I spoke to my husband was March 8th, right before he got on the plane to go to Kish Island.

STEWART: What was he thinking about that day? Did he tell you at all about what he was planning to do, or how long he was planning to be there?

Mrs. LEVINSON: He - this is very common for him. He would go into a large city such as Dubai, which is where he was, and then travel out from there, depending on what kind of appointments he could make. He just called me and told me that he would be gone for 24 hours, and that he would call me when he returned.

STEWART: Did you have that agreement with your husband about, I need to hear from you every certain amount of time?

Mrs. LEVINSON: Yes. I heard from him every day while he was in Dubai. And so this was really unusual. I started to worry after the 24 hours, but he was supposed to get on another plane, and thought that he might have been late and just gotten on the plane, and he would call me when he got to London. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

STEWART: Was he working with anyone else there? Was there any other American involved in this that you know of?

Mrs. LEVINSON: No.

STEWART: We're speaking with Christine Levinson. Her husband went missing about a year ago after last being seen on the Iranian resort island of Kish. He was working for a private security firm at the time. From some other news articles that I read, Mrs. Levinson, one of the last people to see your husband was sort of an Iranian informant, who was considered a good source. But this person is an admitted killer. Has he been ruled out?

Mrs. LEVINSON: Ruled out as far as...

STEWART: Being involved in your husband disappearance?

Mrs. LEVINSON: I don't know what happened over there. What I know is that he was the last person to see my husband - that they met and talked. And that this person, Dawud (ph), was picked up by the authorities to check his papers. And when he returned to the hotel, my husband was no longer there. What happened after that, I don't know. Dawud has said that he believes that my husband was picked up by the authorities also to have his papers checked. But I haven't heard anything since then.

STEWART: Back here at home, obviously, you are devoted to trying to find out what happened to your husband. And hopefully, finding your husband. Let's be positive.

Mrs. LEVINSON: Right.

STEWART: But you have to - life has to go on. I know that's such a cliche. How are you making ends meet while you search for your husband?

Mrs. LEVINSON: Well, actually, I have a little inheritance that I received from my family that I'm using to get through the time.

STEWART: And I'm assuming that you are looking for help with this...

Mrs. LEVINSON: Of course.

STEWART: At this point.

Mrs. LEVINSON: Anybody who can help me, I would hope that they would get in touch with me. They can go to our website, which is www.helpboblevinson.com. And we would be glad to contact them, and, you know, see what they can help us with. Hopefully, somebody will have an answer about where my husband is.

STEWART: And, you know, "help" is such a big word. What kind of help do you mean? Do you mean financial help? Do you mean information? Do you - what is it that you need? What is stopping you? What is your roadblock every time you go out, and you try to figure how can I find my husband?

Mrs. LEVINSON: Information. Because it is a foreign country that we don't a relationship with here in the U.S., it's very difficult to find someone who might know anything about my husband's welfare and whereabouts. And that's what I'm looking for right now.

STEWART: Christine Levinson, thank you so much for speaking with us, and good luck to you and your family.

Mrs. LEVINSON: You're welcome. Thank you.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.