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Free Bobby!


Bobby Levinson, that is.

Despite the mullahcracy's official stonewalling, more reports of Levinson's detention keep surfacing.

From Sunday's Times of London:

A former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran last month is being held by Revolutionary Guards in a “safe house” in Tajrish, northern Tehran, according to a source within the guard, writes Uzi Mahnaimi.

They want to swap Robert Levinson, 59, a private investigator from Florida, for Ali Reza Asgari, an Iranian general who vanished in mysterious circumstances in Turkey in February.

Levinson, who is said to be unwell, has apparently been interrogated by guards who intend to broadcast his testimony on television once Tehran acknowledges that it is holding him.

He disappeared on March 11 while on the island of Kish, an Iranian free trade zone where a visa is not required.

The item appears at the end of a longer piece by Marie Colvin titled "Cracks show under Iran’s strongman," which gives valuable (if troubling) insight into the current weirdness in Teheran.

Mahmoud is starting to make Kim Jong Il look like a paragon of calm and rationality.

UPDATE: Reuters is reporting that an unnamed "senior State Department official" now believes what most readers of this blog have suspected since April 4—namely, that Bob Levinson is a "guest of the Ayatollah."

"In the absence of any other explanation," the official is quoted as saying "you have to start considering other possibilities and that is that certainly it is possible he is being held."

As my teenage daughter would say: Like, duh.

UPDATE: An amusing exchange from today's State Department press briefing with Sean McCormack:

Question: What's different about this latest note to Iran than the previous one? Is anything -- or it's just the date?

Mr. McCormack: No, we did --

Question: Is it pretty please this time?

Mr. McCormack: As a matter of fact, in the note we did go through and suggest to them that there have been these various news accounts out there, some of which have been printed in Iranian press about Mr. Levinson and suggested to them that they might pursue these avenues of inquiry, suggesting that he met with an individual on Kish Island that is well known to the Iranians. And there was another press account which it was said that he was taken by the Iranian security forces. Now, again I underline I can't vouch for the validity of these accounts, but certainly it does raise questions. And we have gone back to the Iranians not only with the information we had provided them before, but also asking them to look into and pursue any leads that might arise from these press accounts that have been out there.

Question: So then that's something new? You did --

Mr. McCormack: That is something new, yes.

Question: And is there any -- you think that -- why weren't they in the initial -- your initial contacts? Why is this something that's just coming in now? I mean, these stories -- at least the Iranian accounts were several weeks ago.

Mr. McCormack: Well, we thought it was reasonable given the fact that the Iranians had come back from our initial formal inquiry and said that they didn't have any information. And we thought it was reasonable to bring it to their attention that there have been these press accounts concerning the circumstances of Mr. Levinson's disappearance and that it might be useful for them to track those down.

"Is it pretty please this time?" Hmmm … I think the press pool may have tumbled on to something here. (You can watch the video here.)

Don't forget to sign the Free Bobby! petition.

Posted by Rodger on April 23, 2007 at 07:50 AM | Permalink


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