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Robert Levinson missing in Iran: FBI offers $1M

Ex-agent Robert Levinson is the focus of a new FBI campaign.

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Robert Levinson's wife Christine, a US citizen, speaks to reporters about her husband's case at the Swiss embassy in Tehran in 2007. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) today announced a $1 million reward for "information leading directly to the safe location, recovery and return of Robert A. Levinson," a retired FBI agent who went missing in Iran in 2007 and is suspected of being held captive there.

The FBI confirmed the move to GlobalPost as the group made the announcement to reporters in Washington. 

The news comes just days ahead of the five-year anniversay of Levinson's disappearance from Iran's vacation spot, Kish Island, on March 9, 2007.

The former agent, whom US officials believe is still alive, is set to turn 64 years old this week. 

The move is also part of a ratcheted-up public-relations offensive by the US on Levinson's behalf, the NY Times reported the FBI as saying. The US reportedly has plans for fresh radio broadcasts about him and billboards carrying his image throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan and other areas in southwest Asia.

The last contact Levinson's family is believed to have had with their missing relative came in a 2010 video, in which he sits in a temporary prison pleading, "help me get home," reported The Guardian

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Levinson was with the US investigatory service for over 30 years. The FBI says he served as a private investigator following his retirement and was working on several cases at the time of his abduction — one of them a cigarette smuggling case, according to the Guardian

The Times reported that while on the island, Levinson is believed to have met with Dawud Salahuddin, a US citizen who fled to Iran in 1980 after being involved in the assassination of a former aide to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who led Iran before his overthrow in the country's 1979 revolution. 

Iranian authorities have previously said they have no information about Levinson and have offered to help search for him, according to Reuters.

The US and Iran severed diplomatic relations following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, and tensions have been rising recently over Tehran's disputed nuclear program and a simmering dispute between Iran and US ally Israel. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120306/robert-levinson-missing-iran-fbi-offers-1m