The family and colleagues of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran nine years ago while on a CIA mission, on Saturday expressed anger and disappointment that he wasn’t part of a January prisoner exchange with Tehran, AP reports.
Levinson, 68, a father of seven from Coral Springs, Florida, vanished during a trip to Iran in 2007, disappearing on Kish Island off Iran's coast. His family has acknowledged that he had been working for the CIA in a rogue operation.
He was not included in a recent breakthrough prisoner swap between Iran and the U.S., which saw four American citizens freed in return for the release of seven Iranians jailed in the United States.
Levinson’s family later said they were "devastated" to learn that he was "left behind" and not included in the deal.
On Saturday, reported AP, several hundred people attended a rally for Levinson in home town.
Stephanie Levinson Curry, his second-oldest child, said her autistic 9-year-old son Ryan cried for days when the other American captives were released, but not his grandfather.
The rally’s stage was decorated with nine chained and padlocked glass cookie jars filled with yellow rocks, each one representing a day Levinson has been held captive. The crowd held yellow signs showing the social media hashtag “whataboutbob.”
“Bob Levinson has been deprived of being a grandfather, a job that he would love so much,” Curry said, according to AP. “We worry all the time about what he is thinking while he is alone in his cell. Even prisoners in jail get to see their families, write them letters and call them. Bob Levinson has none of that.”
Retired FBI agent Ellen Glasser harshly criticized the Obama administration for not demanding that Iran release Levinson or, at least, turn over information about his whereabouts. The FBI says it still investigates every lead and remains committed to finding Levinson. A $5 million reward for information leading to his whereabouts remains in effect.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest recently said that Levinson may no longer be in Iran, but no evidence has surfaced publicly to support that idea.
President Barack Obama said after the recent prisoner swap that the United States and Iran would “deepen cooperation” in the efforts to locate Levinson.
Meanwhile, the FBI has launched a Facebook page in Farsi asking for tips on Levinson's whereabouts.