By Kristina Wong - 01/20/16 03:42 PM EST
The Obama administration believes that missing American Robert Levinson may be outside Iran.
"We have reason to believe he's not being held in Iran," said Brett McGurk, the U.S. diplomat who led negotiations with Iran to free five other American hostages said late Tuesday on PBS's "Newshour."
Levinson, a former FBI agent, went missing almost nine years ago in Iran. Iran freed five other Americans in a prisoner swap over the weekend, but there was no public word on Levinson's whereabouts or if he was still alive.
Levinson's family has blasted the administration's handling of his case, claiming they feel "abandoned."
"We're not getting any answers," Levinson's son Daniel said on MSNBC Tuesday. "We have been abandoned. It's the worst feeling in the world."
Levinson's wife Christine said she learned about the swap from news reports and not from the administration. Administration officials said they regret the leaks and have reached out to the family.
McGurk told "Newshour" his team brought up Levinson "every single round" during the 14 months of talks with Iran to free captive Americans.
On Sunday, Iran released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Christian minister Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari and student Matthew Trevithick.
President Obama pardoned four Iranian citizens and commuted the sentences of three others in exchange for the release. Siamak Namazi, a dual Iranian-American citizen, is still being held in Iran.
"We're going to continue to work, work this every day," McGurk said.
This story was updated at 5:43 p.m.