U.S. lawmakers push for Iran prisoner swap

Feb. 4, 2009 at 7:27 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Two Florida lawmakers say they are trying to generate diplomatic support for a hostage swap with Tehran involving a former FBI agent missing in Iran.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler say they believe Iran is holding private investigator and former FBI agent Robert Levinson who disappeared from Iran's Kish Island in March 2007. They told CNN Wednesday they believe Iran may be willing to negotiate a hostage swap involving Iranian troops being held in Iraq.

"On several diplomatic occasions when Bob Levinson's name has been brought up to Iranian officials, the standard answer is, 'We don't know anything about that,'" Nelson told CNN. "But the next thing out of the Iranian officials' mouths are to discuss the matter of the Iranians held by the Americans in Irbil, Iraq."

U.S. forces say they arrested five Iranians accused of being members of an elite military unit during a January 2007 raid in the Kurdish city of Irbil. Iran claims the men were diplomatic liaisons, but U.S. military officials say the Iranians were attempting to aid radical Iraqi Shiite militias, CNN said.

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