The Daily Beast

Gaetz Scandal’s Mystery ‘Extortion’ Figure Was Obsessed With a Hostage

Tom Williams/Getty

By Jeff Stein

The mystery man at the center of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s allegations that he was the target of an extortion scheme to make sex trafficking charges go away is a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with business interests in the Middle East who has been obsessed for years with rescuing former FBI agent Robert Levinson from Iran.

U.S. intelligence concluded years ago that Levinson, an FBI organized crime expert who disappeared in March 2007 during a covert CIA mission on Iran’s Kish Island, had died in custody, either in Iran or in the hands of Islamic militants. Levinson’s family accepted that finding last year.

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