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Rubio, Menendez, Leahy, Coons, Shaheen, Praise Passage of Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act

Dec 22, 2020 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in releasing the following statements after the passage of the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act (S.712), which was included in the Fiscal Year 2021 omnibus appropriations bill.
Named in honor of former FBI agent and Floridian Robert Levinson, whose unlawful detention by the Iranian regime left him the longest held hostage in American history, the bipartisan legislation bolsters U.S. government resources to bring back Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained abroad. Levinson is presumed to have died in Iranian custody earlier this year.
“This bipartisan bill, named in honor of Floridian Bob Levinson, the longest held American hostage who is believed to have died while detained by the brutal regime in Tehran, strengthens our nation’s resources to bring back American hostages,” Rubio said. “We must ensure that no American family will ever endure what the Levinson family went through. I am proud to have co-led this legislation and I look forward to it becoming law”.
“Earlier this year, we learned that Bob Levinson, the longest-held hostage in American history, died while in Iranian custody, far from his loving family, friends and colleagues. In March 2007, after decades of service to the United States, Bob Levinson was cruelly and mysteriously taken from his family, who have spent the past 13 years tirelessly fighting for his safe return home. Their indefatigable dedication to Bob has inspired me and my colleagues over the years to pursue various legislative efforts, leading to the passage of this bill to ensure that the United States has the resources to safeguard American lives abroad and reunite hostages with their loved ones,” Menendez said. “I commend my colleagues for helping enact this bill, and I continue to stand with the Levinson family in the long march towards achieving justice for Bob.”  
“This bill is a fitting tribute to Bob Levinson, who gave his life for this country, and to his family who did everything humanly possible to try to save his life. Americans wrongfully imprisoned overseas deserve whatever support and assistance our government can give them. This bill, which I am very proud to have taken part in drafting, will help ensure that future victims and their families receive that help,” Leahy said.
“The passage of this bipartisan bill is an important step in seeking justice for the unlawful detention and death of Bob Levinson, an American who was taken hostage by Iran over a decade ago and died in Iranian custody,” Coons said. “The Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act honors Bob by strengthening our ability to bring Americans detained abroad home safely and hold their captors accountable.”
“Any time an American citizen is unjustly held against their will, the U.S. government must do everything in its power to bring them home. Too many lives have been taken and too many Americans remain unjustly imprisoned around the globe today, which is why our legislation is so urgently needed,” Shaheen said. “Our bipartisan effort reaffirms U.S. commitment to secure the freedom of Americans detained abroad and enhances diplomatic authority for the President and administration to force their release. I’m glad Congress is clearing this legislation and delivering it to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This bill is a fitting tribute to Robert Levinson, an FBI agent who was detained by the Iranian regime and died in their custody. He will not be forgotten and through this legislation, we will help ensure Americans who are still unjustly held are not forgotten either. Every tool must be at our disposal to bring Americans home.”
The full text of the resolution is here.
Timeline of Rubio’s Actions in Support of Bob Levinson:

  • June 16, 2020: Senate approves Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-taking Accountability Act
  • January 22, 2020: Rubio leads Call for More action on American hostages in Iran
  • March 12, 2019: Rubio introduces resolution marking the 12th anniversary of Bob Levinson’s disappearance.
  • March 7, 2019: On the 12th anniversary of Bob Levinson’s disappearance in Iran, Rubio and Colleagues introduce bill to assist Americans held hostage or unlawfully detained abroad.
  • November 18, 2019: Rubio renews call for Bob Levinson’s immediate release
  • March 9, 2018: Rubio commented on the 11th anniversary of Bob Levinson’s disappearance.
  • March 12, 2018: Rubio, Senator Bill Nelson, and U.S. Congressman Deutch call out Iran for denying commitment to assist with Bob Levinson’s case.