US Orders Iran to Pay $1.46 Billion Judgment for Missing FBI Agent

Attorney says figure is for 'pain and suffering' of family

US District Judge Timothy Kelly has issued a decision in which he ordered Iran to pay $107 million in compensatory damages and $1.3 billion in punitive damages in the disappearance and potential torture of former FBI agent Robert Levinson.

The attorney argued this was fair for the “pain and suffering” of the family, saying Iran had “tortured the family in a way.” Not in a literal way, and potentially not even in a figurative way, since it’s not clear Iran was at all involved in this.

Levinson disappeared in 2007 while working for the CIA. There was a supposition at the time that he was in Iran, but while Iran has denied having anything to do with him, that supposition has just continued on until it became the basis for a huge lawsuit. 

Him being imprisoned as an FBI/CIA guy for skulking around Iran is at least plausible, which would be the basis for this whole lawsuit. The attorney’s claim that Levinson was tortured, however, comes out of nowhere, since it’s not clear where Levinson was/is or what happened to him. The whole argument seems to be built on the assumption that it’s the sort of thing Iran probably would do.

The judgment probably won’t be paid anyhow, since it’s a US court and the US has frozen all of Iran’s assets. At most they might sell a seized Iranian building and use that money, but even that is unlikely.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of