The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

Family of ex-FBI agent missing from Iran feels "betrayed and devastated"

When the wife of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, missing from Iran since 2007, first heard about the U.S.-Iran prisoner exchange, she had to turn on the TV to learn more details of what was going on.

robert_levinson.jpg
Robert Levinson, in an undated photo
www.helpboblevinson.com

"I felt very betrayed and devastated that I hadn't even received a phone call to let me know this was happening because we had been promised that when the other people were released, Bob would be with them. And he was not," his wife, Christine, said.

To her disappointment, no one from the U.S. government had notified her family that five Americans would be released from Iran as part of a prisoner swap.

On Sunday, as President Obama updated the nation on the status of the nuclear deal with Iran and lifting of some sanctions, he also vowed to not give up on reuniting the Levinson family.

"Iran has agreed to deepen our coordination as we work to locate Robert Levinson, missing from Iran for more than eight years. Even as we rejoice in the safe return of others, we will never forget about Bob," Mr. Obama said. "Each and every day, but especially today, our hearts are with the Levinson family, and we will not rest until their family is whole again."

If alive, Levinson, who was working as a consultant for the CIA at the time of his disappearance, will be the longest-held American hostage in U.S. history.

Christine said she was not given an explanation for why Levinson was not among the detainees who were released, but believed the U.S. "asked for [the Iranians'] help to find him in order to get him home." After the prisoner swap was announced, Christine said she spoke to Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, and FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano.

"They did tell me that they were hoping to get in touch with me before it happened, but they had not been able to," she recounted.

Robert Gates, former CIA director who was the U.S. secretary of defense when Levinson went missing, said prisoner swaps always come with criticism ("Did you get enough for what you gave?"). While Gates pointed out that he did not know the details of the negotiations for this particular prisoner swap, he said he would have pushed for more information.

"I think one of the things that I would have pressed for, and maybe they did, was for definitive information about [Robert Levinson]. Either proof of life or proof of death or something to bring closure," Gates said on "CBS This Morning."

The Iranians claim they don't know Levinson's whereabouts, but Levinson's son, Daniel, is convinced the Islamic Republic knows what happened to his father.

"Two weeks after his disappearance ... this is 2007 in April, Iran state run media had reported that he was ... 'in the hands of Iranian security forces' and would be 'freed in a matter of days.' And this has been almost nine years now, which is absolutely ridiculous," Daniel said.

Family members went to the Iranian resort of Kish Island in 2007 and retraced Levinson's steps, he said.

"That airport on Kish Island where he disappeared -- very tiny. The trip from his hotel was five minutes, and everybody knows exactly -- on that island -- what's going on," Daniel said.

He said the U.S. government has told their family there is no credible evidence that Levinson is dead.

"So of course, we're going to go forward, and we're not going to give up and we're going to do everything possible, because we still believe he's alive, and we're not going to stop until we hear otherwise," Daniel said.

Daniel said he thinks mistakes were made both by the U.S. government and Iranians.

"We don't know who was overzealous and decided that my dad would be a good person to pick up, but I think there were mistakes made, and it's really hard for him to walk back from what happened, especially after this long," Daniel said. "So that's worrying to us."

The weekend's prisoner release from Iran is not the first the Levinson family has weathered without hearing of their loved one. In 2010 and 2011, three hikers were released after being jailed in Tehran's Evin prison.