But a 2013 Associated Press investigation revealed that Levinson had in fact been sent on a mission by Central Intelligence Agency analysts who had no authority to run such an operation.
"Those who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, including those in the USA government who for many years repeatedly left him behind, will ultimately receive justice for what they have done".
"Those who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, including those in the US government who for many years repeatedly left him behind, will ultimately receive justice for what they have done".More news: Wall St. holds gain as Senate reaches stimulus deal
"Our family also wishes to thank Congressman Ted Deutch, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Bob Menendez, and their staff members, who fought for Bob Levinson in every possible way", they said. "Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most unbelievable man, a new reality that is inconceivable to us".
"Bob Levinson should have spent his last moments surrounded by his family and all the love we feel for him".
The family thanked Donald Trump for his efforts to get Mr Levinson released, while condemning "those responsible for what happened, including those in the USA government who for many years repeatedly left him behind".
The family thanked President Trump and US officials for their efforts to find Levinson.
His family accused the Iranian regime of "repeatedly lying to the world" about Levinson and said that the whereabouts of his body were unknown.More news: Apple's Watches excluded from US tariffs on China imports
White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said in a statement on Wednesday: "While the investigation is ongoing, we believe that Bob Levinson may have passed away some time ago".
"I don't accept that he's dead", Trump told reporters when asked about the family's statement.
They say he had been working in Kish as a private investigator looking at cigarette counterfeiting in the region. They were later forced out of the agency and several more were disciplined after an internal agency investigation.
The family posted blame for the "heartless" Iranian regime and praised President Donald Trump and his administration for doing "all they could to make our family whole again". We are so grateful for their efforts. Whether any new intelligence informed the recent assessment he had died was not immediately known, though the Trump administration has this year repeated demands that Levinson be returned home.
The Trump administration on November 4, 2019, offered a reward of up to $20 million for information about Levinson. One of those freed was Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who wrote in a memoir previous year that an Iranian source indicated Levinson, or answers to his fate, were withheld by the regime as a future bargaining chip for their interests.More news: US Judge Charges Man With Terrorism for Coughing on Grocery Store Worker
Archin, who served as the Defense Department's Iran country director, examined the files last fall following the odd admission by Tehran's judicial system to a United Nations body that an open case against Levinson existed despite 12 years of denials by the regime that he ever was detained there. "That would be a very bad step!" he added.