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Robert Levinson video released by family

Kidnapped and missing for nearly five years, former FBI agent Robertson Levinson pleads for help in a hostage video.

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Robert Levinson's son, Daniel, holds a picture of his father during a press conference with his mother at the Swiss embassy in Tehran. The former FBI agent has been missing for nearly five years. The family released a hostage video of him today online. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert Levinson's family has released video footage, which they've held onto since November 2010, of him being held hostage.

It has been nearly five years since the former FBI agent was kidnapped.

The video features Levinson disheveled and thin, pleading for help in front of a cement wall.

“I need the help of the United States government to answer the requests of the group that has held me,” he said on the tape. “Please help me get home.”

According to The New York Times, the US government has been trying to bring Levinson back since his disappearance in March 2007.

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He went missing while working on the Iran island of Kish as a private investigator researching cigarette smuggling.

The US government still has very little knowledge of who is holding him captive, and where he is.

The New York Times reported:

"Earlier this year, Mr. Levinson’s family received another e-mail containing photographs of him wearing what looks like orange prison garb and with a full beard. The F.B.I. was able to trace the various e-mails back to Internet cafes in either Pakistan or Afghanistan but not back to the person or group that created them."

The Associated Press got access to the video soon after Levinson's family got a hold of it, reported The Christian Science Monitor. But the US government said releasing it would "complicate diplomatic efforts to bring Levinson home."

Today, however, the family decided to release the video since efforts from the US seemed to have stalled.

"I imagined us enjoying this time in our life together raising our children, seeing them off to college, watching them get married, starting families of their own and growing into productive citizens we are proud of," wrote Levinson's wife, Christine, on an online entry dated in June.

"Instead the last four years, separated from you, have been a living hell."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/111209/Robert-Levinson-video-released-by-family