An American man who disappeared nearly seven years ago in Iran has been revealed as a CIA spy who hat was on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission.
For years the U.S. has publicly described Robert Levinson as a private citizen who was travelling on private business.
But an investigation by Associated Press reveals that Levinson was working for the CIA.
In a breach of CIA rules, Robert Levinson was paid by a team of analysts to gather intelligence in the country, Associated Press reports.
He vanished while he was investigating the Iranian regime for the US government.
The CIA paid Robert Levinson's family €1.8m to avoid a revealing lawsuit.
"Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran," the White House said last month.
But, according to the AP investigation, top US officials believe Levinson’s captors in Iran almost certainly know about his CIA association.
There has been no proof of life since his family received photos and a video in late 2010 and early 2011.
There has been no record of Levinson since he checked out of a hotel in Kish on March 9, 2007 after spending one night there and meeting with an admitted killer.
In an October 2010 interview, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran at the time, said his country was willing to help find Levinson, but he appeared to suggest he had suspicions Levinson was working for the US government.
"Of course if it becomes clear what his goal was, or if he was indeed on a mission, then perhaps specific assistance can be given," Ahmadinejad said.
"For example, if he had plans to visit with a group or an individual or go to another country, he would be easier to trace in that instance."
Iran now denies any knowledge of Levinson's whereabouts and says it's doing all it can.
Robert’s wife Christine, who is based in Florida, works to keep her husband's name in the news.
"There isn't any pressure on Iran to resolve this," his wife said in January, frustrated with what she said was a lack of attention by Washington.
"It's been much too long."