October 06, 2020

US court orders Iran to pay $1.4 bn damages to missing intelligence agent Robert Levinsons family
A US court has ordered Iran to pay $1.45 billion to the family of a former FBI agent who is believed to have been detained by the Iranian government while on a secret CIA mission to an Iranian island. Robert Levinson, who disappeared aged 58 on Kish island in March 2007, is believed by his family and the US government to have died in Iranian custody aged 71 or 72 after becoming the longest-held hostage in US history. US District Judge Timothy Kelly signed an order last Thursday awarding his family $107 million in compensation and punitive damages of $1.3 billion. Iranian state media and officials have not acknowledged the ruling in the case, which Iran did not defend. The order is unlikely to be paid in full, with damages coming from a US government fund for victims of state-sponsored terrorism, but Mr Levinson's family welcomed the judgement. "This judgment is the first step in the pursuit of justice for Robert Levinson, an American patriot who was kidnapped and subjected to unimaginable suffering for more than 13 years," his family said. "Until now, Iran has faced no consequences for its actions. Judge Kelly’s decision won’t bring Bob home, but we hope that it will serve as a warning against further hostage taking by Iran," the family said, adding: "We intend to find any and every avenue, and pursue all options, to seek justice for Robert Levinson." In March, Mr Levinson's family said information they received from US officials suggested he had died in Iranian custody. Iran denied this, saying he had left the country “years ago”. Mr Levinson disappeared on Kish island after meeting an American Islamic militant who fled to Iran while facing charges over the murder of an Iranian embassy official in Washington. Months later, US government sources acknowledged that Mr Levinson had an informal contractual relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency. Shortly after he went missing, Iran said its security forces had detained Mr Levinson. That statement was later retracted and nothing was heard of him until 2010, when a video was released showing him looking haggard and thin. “I am not in very good health," he said in the footage in which he appealed to the US government to “answer the requests of the group” holding him. "I am running very quickly out of diabetes medicine," he said.
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