The Federal Bureau Of Investigation offered a $1 million reward Tuesday for information on a former FBI agent who disappeared 5 years ago, The New York Times reports.
The FBI also announced plans to put billboards with pictures of the missing agent, Robert A. Levinson put up around Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other Southwest Asian countries. Radio announcements and fliers are also planned.
According to Pete Williams, NBC News Justice Correspondent, investigators believe Levinson's captors are somewhere in the border region that Iran shares with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The announcement was made by FBI Director Robert Mueller at a conference in Washington, and is the latest move in the FBI's efforts to find Levinson who disappeared while working as a private investigator on Kish Island, a resort area off the coast of Iran. He was looking into cigarette smuggling. While on the island, Levinson met with Dawud Salahuddin, an American Fugitive who fled to Iran in 1980 after assassinating a former aide to Shah, Reza Pahlavi.
"We will continue to all we can to ensure Bob's safe return, Mueller said standing in front of dozens of current and former agents outside the FBI's Washington field office.
Levinson's wife of 37 year's, Christine, attended the conference and discussed her ordeal.
"There are no words to describe the nightmare my family and I have been living everyday. I have never imagined that we would still be waiting for Bob to come home 5 years later," she said.
American officials believe the long-term FBI veteran is still alive. In 2010, Levinson's family received a videotape showing Mr. Levinson sitting in a makeshift prison. "Please help me get home," he is heard saying on the tape." Thirty-three years of service to the United States deserves something."
His family has also received pictures of Levinson with a full beard, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit similar to those worn by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Iranian officials, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insist they know nothing about Mr Levinson's disappearance or whereabouts.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Levinson case "remains a priority for the United States."
"We welcome the assistance of our international partners in this investigation. We also call on the government of Iran to uphold its promise of assistance and help safely return Mr. Levinson to the United States," she said in a written statement.
Levinson will turn 64 on March 10. He suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, and his family is very concerned for his health.
Speaking on today's announcement, James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office said, "We hope this reward will encourage anyone with information about Bob or his captors, no matter how significant it seems, to contact the FBI."
American and Iranian officials have had private discussions about Mr Levinson without progress.