CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami/AP) – The family of former South Florida FBI agent Bob Levinson has announced he has died while in Iranian custody.

His loved ones released the following statement on social media:

The family said in a statement posted on Twitter that it had no information about how or when Levinson had died, but that it occurred before the recent coronavirus outbreak. The family said information U.S. officials had received led them to conclude that he is dead.

“It is impossible to describe our pain,” the family’s statement said. “Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man, a new reality that is inconceivable to us. His grandchildren will never meet him. They will know him only through the stories we tell them.”

Sen. Marco Rubio released a statement after hearing of Levinson’s reported death.

“After years of pressing Iran for the release of American citizen and Florida resident Bob Levinson, the news announced today by his family was the one none of us ever wanted to hear,” Rubio said. “Jeanette and I send our deepest heartfelt condolences to the Levinson family. I have had the honor of getting to know his incredible family over the last decade. No family should ever have to experience what they have endured. It is my view, which I have shared with the highest levels of this Administration, that the U.S. Government should hold the evil regime accountable for this and demand the immediate release of all other American hostages held in Iran.”

Levinson, who is from Coral Springs, disappeared on March 9, 2007, when he was scheduled to meet a source on the Iranian island of Kish. For years, U.S. officials would only say that Levinson was working independently on a private investigation.

But a 2013 Associated Press investigation revealed that Levinson had in fact been sent on a mission by CIA analysts who had no authority to run such an operation.

“Those who are responsible for what happened to Bob Levinson, including those in the U.S. government who for many years repeatedly left him behind, will ultimately receive justice for what they have done,” the family statement said.

The family received proof-of-life photos and a video in late 2010 and early 2011, but his whereabouts and fate were not known.

In November, the Iranian government unexpectedly responded to a United Nations query by saying that Levinson was the subject of an “open case” in Iranian Revolutionary Court. Though the development gave the family a burst of hope, Iran clarified that the “open case” was an investigation into his disappearance.

The announcement of his death comes just weeks after a federal judge in Washington held Iran liable for his disappearance, saying the country was “in no uncertain terms” responsible for Levinson’s “hostage taking and torture.”

Tuesday would have been his 67th birthday.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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