The decision of the Associated Press and The Washington Post to publish the story of Robert Levinson, a man who went missing in Iran in 2007 and was working for the CIA, drew sharp criticism from other media outlets and readers/internet commenters. However, on CNN’s media show Reliable Sources, reporter Matt Abuzzo and “the senior-most editor” at the AP said that their rationale for publishing the story was that “Bob Levinson was not well-served by his government” and to “make sure this can’t happen again.” It has been three years since Levinson’s captors made contact with his family, and the prevailing idea is that he hasn’t survived his captivity.
Arizona Senator John McCain has weighed in on the controversy—not over the publication of the story, but the story that the CIA has told Congress since his capture—saying that the CIA has not been honest with legislators about him. On CNN’s State of the Union McCain also levied criticism at the Obama administration for keeping the story under wraps. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the report was “highly irresponsible” and reaffirms that Levinson was not “an employee” of the government when he went missing.
On CBS’s Face the Nation Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said that Levinson was not being detained by the government in Iran and that they would “discuss” returning him to America if he is found. “Anything is possible,” he said, then added, “But I’m saying that we have no trace of him in Iran.” On This Week on ABC, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US has not abandoned Levinson—despite his activities being unsanctioned—and they are currently “looking for proof of life.” Yet all of this brings no consolation to Levinson’s family, demanding to meet with recently installed head of the FBI James Comey.