By: Sharon Aron Baron
On the 2,357 day of Coral Springs resident Robert Levinson’s captivity in Iran, the City Commission, along with US Congressman Ted Deutch, passed a resolution encouraging his swift and safe return to his family.
Robert “Bob” Levinson, an American private investigator and retired FBI agent was taken hostage on March 9, 2007, when visiting Iran’s Kish Island while researching a cigarette smuggling case. This Thanksgiving, he will become the longest held hostage ever in American history.
To accept the resolution, was Levinson’s wife Christine who has tirelessly campaigned for Bob’s release in front of Senators, on up to the President.
Christine and Bob are 29-year residents of Coral Springs and moved here when there wasn’t too much around. “Bob was transferred from New York to Miami and they said that Coral Springs had the best schools, and they were right.”
All seven of their children attended Riverside Elementary School, five of them having graduated from J.P. Taravella High School and two from Coral Glades High School.
The UN General Assembly will be meeting in New York in September and Mrs. Levinson will be there to remind them about her husband. “Last year we had large billboards up with Bob’s picture, which were put up by the FBI.” They were hoping to get the attention of former President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was attending.
This month, President Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran replacing Ahmadinejad. Parliament also just confirmed Mohammad Javad Zarif as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Zarif was the UN Ambassador when the case first started,” said Levinson who hopes this change in the administration will help bring Bob home.
In 2010, Levinson said the family received “irrefutable proof” that he was still alive via a video tape dated from November. In the video, Levinson appears to have lost considerable weight, and repeatedly pleads for help in returning home. Since that time they have not received any more videos or any substantial leads.
In March 2012, approaching the five-year anniversary of Levinson’s captivity, the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his safe recovery and return. In addition, a campaign was launched, using billboards, radio messages, flyers, and a telephone hotline to publicize this reward and obtain information of his whereabouts.
“A couple of weeks ago, I met with Secretary of State, John Kerry,” said Christina Levinson, “And he promised to do whatever he can to help us.”
Each day, his Facebook page is updated by his children with the number of days their father is held in captivity and a memory or two about him. The page has over 8,000 faithful followers who have suffered along with the family’s journey in the hopes of finding some answers, somewhere.