US issues $20 million reward for American missing in Iran

By DEB RIECHMANN | Associated Press |

A demonstrator holds an anti-U.S. placard during an annual rally outside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. Reviving decades-old cries of “Death to America,” Iran on Monday marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the 444-day hostage crisis that followed as tensions remain high over the country’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers. The Persian on top of the placard is a quotation of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which reads: “U.S. is on the verge of annihilation.” Vahid Salemi AP Photo

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Monday offered a reward of up to $20 million for information about Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, and imposed new sanctions on leading Iranian officials as relations deteriorated further on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover.

The reward for help solving the Levinson disappearance and the sanctions also come as Iran said it was doubling the number of advanced centrifuges it operates to produce nuclear fuel, trimming the time experts believe that the Islamic Republic would need to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon.

The State Department claims Levinson was taken hostage in Iran with the involvement of the Iranian regime. The Iranian government has never acknowledged arresting him. Combined with a $5 million reward already in place from the FBI, this makes a total of $25 million available to the person or persons providing information about Levinson.

“This is the 40th anniversary of the day in 1979 when 52 Americans were taken hostage and held for 444 days,” Levinson’s family said in a statement released after the new reward was announced. “Bob Levinson has been held more than 10 times longer — for 4,624 days. Bob Levinson must come home, and Iran’s hostage-taking as government policy must end.”

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