Tuesday, July 10, 2012

582 Suicide of Australian Mossad spy; held in the same Israelli prison as Mordechai Vanunu

Suicide of Australian Mossad spy; held in the same Israelli prison as
Mordechai Vanunu

Newsletter published on 15-02-2013

(1) Australia's spy agency ASIS was monitoring Mossad spies using
Australian passports
(2) Zygier used Australian passports for Mossad work in Iran, Arab countries
(3) 'Ben talked too much, he wasn't Mossad material'. Family refuse to
(4) Was he their spy? Editorial, Herald Sun, Melbourne
(5) Zygier was solitary-confined in Ayalon max-security prison, with
Vanunu & Palestinians
(6) Ayalon Prison also was used to hold John Demjanjuk
(7) Zygier role in Dubai assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
(8) Australian passports used by Mossad in Dubai assassination; Zygier
probably wanted to blow the whistle
(9) Publication of Zygier's photo will blow numerous Mossad operations
(10) Zygier visited Iran undercover for Mossad; recruited Saudi, Iranian
students at Australian Uni

(1) Australia's spy agency ASIS was monitoring Mossad spies using
Australian passports


Mossad and Australian spies: how Fairfax reporter homed in on Zygier

Tip-off for journalist Jason Katsoukis led to espionage trail of
Australian-Israeli spies, false passports and Zygier interview

Peter Beaumont

The Guardian, Wednesday 13 February 2013 18.35 GMT

For Jason Katsoukis, the Australian journalist who first investigated
allegations that Ben Zygier was a Mossad agent, the claims initially
sounded "outlandish".

In 2009, while living in Jerusalem and filing stories to the Australian
Fairfax group, Katsoukis was contacted by an anonymous source with
connections to the intelligence world.

The story that the source told over a series of conversations was indeed

The source named three Australians with joint Israeli citizenship whom,
he said, were working for a front company set up by Mossad in Europe
selling electronic equipment to Iran and elsewhere.

"I was tipped off in October 2009," Katsoukis told the Guardian on
Wednesday, recalling the events that would lead to his calling Zygier at
his home in Jerusalem and accusing him of being an Israeli spy.

"The story was that Mossad was recruiting Australians to spy for them
using a front company in Europe. It all seemed too good to be true.

"But what I was told seemed to check out. The company did exist. I also
managed to establish that Zygier and another of the individuals had
worked for it. I wasn't able to confirm the third name.

"I was told too that the Australian authorities were closing in on
Zygier and that he might even be arrested.

"There was other stuff about Zygier. In Australia you can change your
name once a year. He'd done it four times I think, but they were
beginning to get suspicious. I also found out that he had applied for a
work visa for Italy in Melbourne."

The repeated changes of name would have allowed Zygier to create new
identities and multiple passports.

While Katsoukis was working on the story – still uncertain if it stacked
up – something happened that encouraged both his editors and Katsoukis
himself to bring forward their contact with Zygier.

In January 2010, a Mossad hit squad murdered the Hamas official Mahmoud
al-Mabhouh, in Dubai.

It emerged that the team had been supplied with false passports from a
number of countries including Germany, Ireland and the UK, apparently
confirming the very practice Katsoukis was investigating.

"The feeling was that we should go to Zygier and put the story to him.
It wasn't difficult to find him. He'd was back in Jerusalem so I called
him at home.

"When I spoke to him he was incredulous at first and said fuck off – but
what was interesting was that he did not hang up. He did soundly
genuinely shocked. But he listened to what I had to say.

"I still wonder why he didn't hang up. He denied everything however. He
said he hadn't visited the countries it had been claimed he had. I tried
calling again but in the end he told me to buzz off."

Katsoukis also spoke to the CEO of the alleged front company, and had an
equally strange series of exchanges.

"He seemed a bit weird. He denied all knowledge of what I was talking
about, but then wanted to talk to me again and make an arrangement to
meet up."

Still believing that the story sounded "crazy", Katsoukis wanted to
check with other sources. Among them was a senior government official he
knew. To his surprise, when he was given the opportunity to knock the
story down, this person instead appeared to confirm it.

Fairfax published the story of the three Australian citizens who had
allegedly been spying for Israel, but withheld the details about the
existence of the front company.

(2) Zygier used Australian passports for Mossad work in Iran, Arab countries


Australian suspected of Mossad links dies in Israeli jail

Foreign Correspondent

By Trevor Bormann

Updated Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:07pm AEDT

Evidence has been unearthed that strongly suggests Israel's infamous
Prisoner X, who was jailed under extraordinary circumstances in 2010,
was an Australian national from Melbourne.

Investigations by the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program have revealed
Ben Zygier, who used the name Ben Alon in Israel, was found hanged in a
high-security cell at a prison near Tel Aviv in late 2010.

His body was flown to Melbourne for burial a week later.

The death goes part of the way to explain the existence in Israel of a
so-called Prisoner X, widely speculated in local and international media
as an inmate whose presence has been acknowledged by neither the jail
system nor the government.

The case is regarded as one of the most sensitive secrets of Israel's
intelligence community, with the government going to extraordinary
lengths to stifle media coverage and gag attempts by human rights
organisations to expose the situation.

{Watch the full Foreign Correspondent report on Prisoner X on iview.}

The Prisoner X cell is a jail within a jail at Ayalon Prison in the city
of Ramla. It was built for the assassin of Israeli prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin.

The ABC understands Mr Zygier became its occupant in early 2010. His
incarceration was so secret that it is claimed not even guards knew his

Israeli media at the time reported that this Prisoner X received no
visitors and lived hermetically sealed from the outside world.

When an Israeli news website reported that the prisoner died in his cell
in December 2010, Israeli authorities removed its web pages.

An Israeli court order prohibiting any publication or public discussion
of the matter is still in force; Israel's internal security service,
Shin Bet, has effectively blocked any coverage of the matter.

Secret imprisonment

Foreign Correspondent can reveal that Mr Zygier was 34 at the time of
his death and had moved to Israel about 10 years earlier. He was married
to an Israeli woman and had two small children.

Mr Zygier's arrest and jailing in Israel remains a mystery, but the ABC
understands he was recruited by spy agency Mossad.

It is understood Mr Zygier "disappeared" in early 2010, spending several
months in the Prisoner X cell.

At the time, human rights organisation Association for Civil Rights in
Israel criticised the imprisonment and wrote to Israel's attorney-general.

"It's alarming that there's a prisoner being held incommunicado and we
know nothing about him," wrote the association's chief legal counsel Dan

The assistant to the attorney-general wrote back: "The current gag order
is vital for preventing a serious breach of the state's security, so we
cannot elaborate about this affair."

Contacted by the ABC, Mr Yakir would not comment on the case, quoting a
court order gagging discussion.

It's called a disappearance, and a disappearance is not only a violation
of that person's due process rights - that's a crime.

Bill van Esveld, a Jerusalem-based advocate for Human Rights Watch, has
described the secret imprisonment of Prisoner X as "inexcusable".

"It's called a disappearance, and a disappearance is not only a
violation of that person's due process rights - that's a crime," he told
Foreign Correspondent.

"Under international law, the people responsible for that kind of
treatment actually need to be criminally prosecuted themselves."

Mr Zygier's apparent suicide in prison adds to the mystery. He was found
hanged in a cell which was equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance
systems installed to prevent suicide. Guards reportedly tried
unsuccessfully to revive him.

His body was retrieved and flown to Melbourne. He was buried in Chevra
Kadisha Jewish cemetery in the suburb of Springvale on December 22,
seven days after his death.

Mr Zygier's family has declined to speak to the ABC, and friends and
acquaintances approached by Foreign Correspondent in Melbourne have also
refused to comment.

Mossad activity

{VIDEO: Former ASIS agent Warren Reed speaks to ABC News 24's The World
(ABC News)}

Australia's domestic intelligence agency ASIO has long scrutinised
Australian Jews suspected of working for Mossad.

The agency believes Mossad recruits change their names from European and
Jewish names to "Anglo" names. They then take out new passports and
travel to the Arab world and Iran, to destinations Israeli passport
holders cannot venture.

Warren Reed, a former intelligence operative for Australia's overseas
spy agency ASIS, told Foreign Correspondent that Australians were ideal
recruits for Mossad.

"Australians abroad are generally seen to be fairly innocent," he said.

"It's a clean country - it has a good image like New Zealand.

"There aren't many countries like that, so our nationality and anything
connected with it can be very useful in intelligence work."

The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Mr Zygier also
carried an Australian passport bearing the name Ben Allen.

'Allegations troubling'

When told details of Foreign Correspondent's investigation, Foreign
Minister Bob Carr said he was concerned by the claims.

"Those allegations certainly do trouble me," Senator Carr said.

"It's never been raised with me. I'm not reluctant to seek an
explanation from the Israeli government about what happened to Mr Allen
and about what their view of it is.

"The difficulty is I'm advised we've had no contact with his family
[and] there's been no request for consular assistance during the period
it's alleged he was in prison."

Senator Carr says in the absence of a complaint by Mr Zygier's family,
there is little for the Australian Government to act upon.

However the transgression came about, it would have to be involved with
espionage, treachery - very, very sensitive information that known to
others would pose an immediate threat to Israel as a nation state.

Former ASIS operative Warren Reed
International conventions spell out that when a foreigner is jailed or
dies, their diplomatic mission must be informed.

Senator Carr claims Australian diplomats in Israel only knew of Mr
Zygier's incarceration after his death.

Mr van Esveld says it is inexcusable for the Australian Government not
to be notified.

"The obligation of one country to notify another when the other citizen
has been arrested, detained, especially if they die - that is so basic.
It is called customary law," he said.

"Which means that even if Israel didn't ratify a treaty saying it has to
notify the other country, it still has to do so because that is such a
basic norm of interstate relations."

The greater mystery is why Mr Zygier was imprisoned under such secrecy.

Sources with connections to Israel's intelligence community have told
Foreign Correspondent his predicament would have been "extreme" to
warrant such harsh treatment.

Former ASIS operative Mr Reed told the ABC: "However the transgression
came about, it would have to be involved with espionage, treachery -
very, very sensitive information that known to others would pose an
immediate threat to Israel as a nation state."

(3) 'Ben talked too much, he wasn't Mossad material'. Family refuse to


'Ben talked too much, he wasn't Mossad material'

Friends, acquaintances of alleged spy say 'There were rumors he was
Mossad'; former coworker: Ben was proud of his army service. Father says
matter too painful for family to comment on Ynet

Latest Update: 02.13.13, 20:15 / Israel News

The story of Ben Zygier, the Australian national who allegedly committed
suicide while being held in an Israeli prison – the details of which
remain under a strict gag order – continues to resonate in his native

The Australian Financial Review published a story with Patrick Durkin, a
friend of Zygier, who clerked with him and a group of friends at Norton
Rose, a law firm, in 2001.

"I remember drinking with Ben one night in 2001 when he recounted his
famous story about taking a bullet in the posterior during his military
service in Israel, which he served shortly before joining our group,"
Durkin said.

ABC's 'Prisoner X' investigation

According to him, "He described in vivid detail serving on the front
line and backtracking across war-torn countryside while gunfire peppered
the ground," recalling the incident that left him wounded in his rear end.

"He was extremely proud of his time in the military, despite our endless
teasing about the wound we never asked to see.

In regards to Israel, Durkin recalls arguing with Zygier: "I remember
passionately debating the finer points of the Israeli-Palestine conflict
with Ben who was obviously deeply engaged with the issue."

He also spoke of Ben's personal interests, citing "his fondness for the
music of Deborah Conway" an Australian singer, with whom "he was
connected through his uncle Willy Zygier – Conway’s long-time partner."

He additionally noted, that despite being “five-foot something” Zygier
played, and was actually quite skilled at football; "Ben dominated on
the ball."

The two had met when "Ben had joined our group of 20-odd articled clerks
halfway through the year."

As the years passed the group grew apart, Zygier "reportedly moved back
to Israel more than 10 years ago. Our group lost touch with him and
never knew the life he established with a wife and two small children."

According to his friends he was "serious" but "aloof."

As an explanation, Durkin cites Zygier's educational background: "He had
attended Bialik College in suburban Melbourne – described as a
co-educational, Zionist, Jewish day school".

According to the Australian paper The Age, Zygier was a member of a
prominent Jewish family in the Australian city of Melbourne, where
Geoffrey, his father, is the executive director of the Victoria Jewish
Community Council.

"It's still just too painful for us to speak about at the moment,"
Geoffrey, Zygier's father said from his home in Malvern.

"We understand the interest, but we've decided not to talk to anyone,
not at the moment. I'm sorry."

'Never struck me as stable'

Meanwhile, despite the family's silence, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency
(JTA) has reportd that members of Australia’s Jewish community have
begun to share what they knew about Zygier’s earlier life.

A friend from the Hashomer movement, who was with Zygier in Kibbutz
Gazit in 1994 said that Zygier “never struck me as someone who was stable.”

“I could never imagine someone like that being good for Mossad,” said
the acquaintance, who like most acquaintances interviewed about Zygier
did not want to be identified. “Also, Ben talked too much.”

Others who close to the family repeated reports that the parents were
devastated in by their son’s 2010 death.

“They were absolutely shocked, it was just terrible,” recalled Danny
Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Lamm said
he had no current information on the case.

“There was a complete shutdown,” said someone else about circumstances
surrounding Zygier’s death. “No one knew what the story was. The parents
crumbled. They cut off from life. They were broken. They completely
withdrew from everything for two years.”

Both of Zygier’s parents quit the Jewish community posts they held
around the time of Zygier’s death.

“The poor parents have suffered enough till now,” one former Jewish
community leader told JTA.

“No one acknowledged there was suicide. There were rumors he was Mossad,
but no one knew, there was such secrecy.”

Another acquaintance said, “I remember hanging out in Israel with him in
1996. He was a nice guy, a bit lost. Next I heard was that he died in

"At the time, what the family understood to be the case was that he was
overseas on a (alleged Mossad) operation, then they got confirmation he
had committed suicide. It crushed the family.”

Reached by JTA, Zygier’s cousin, Marlon Dubs, said, “I have nothing to
add, nothing at all.”

The family’s rabbi, Shimshon Yurkowicz of Chabad, declined to confirm or
deny anything to do with the Australian network's report.

(4) Was he their spy? Editorial, Herald Sun, Melbourne


Was he their spy?

Editorial From: Herald Sun, Melbourne

February 14, 2013 12:00AM

FOREIGN Minister Bob Carr has a mystery to solve within his own department.

This is just as important as asking the Israeli Government to reveal
details of the death of a Melbourne man who may have been its mysterious
"Prisoner X".

Not only did the Israelis fail to inform Australia that one of its
citizens died in a Tel Aviv prison, it appears Australian diplomats did
not pass on the information.

The family of Ben Zygier, now buried in a Melbourne cemetery, is also
being close-mouthed about his alleged suicide.

The ABC's Foreign Correspondent has questioned whether Mr Zygier was
Prisoner X, whose identity is still subject to a strict suppression order.

Prisoner X is reported to have been a spy with Israeli secret service
agency Mossad.

Senator Carr has been embarrassed after saying the Australian Government
knew nothing of Mr Zygier's detention until after his family requested
his body be returned.

The Israelis owe Australia an explanation and so do the diplomats, who
seem to have been involved in its web of secrecy.

Friendly governments do not treat each other in this way and the
diplomats involved have some explaining to do.

If Mr Zygier was Prisoner X, what did he do? It is a question that
should be answered.

(5) Zygier was solitary-confined in Ayalon max-security prison, with
Vanunu & Palestinians


Israel gripped by identity of 'Prisoner X'

Israel has been gripped by a guessing game over the identity of a
mysterious prisoner being held in such secrecy that even his guards do
not know his name.

{photo} Palestinian prisoners jailed in the Israeli Ayalon prison in the
city of Ramla Photo: CORBIS {end}

By Richard Spencer and Adrian Blomfield 9:45PM BST 21 Jun 2010

The elusive "Mr X" is being held for unspecified crimes and confined in
total seclusion within a private wing of the maximum-security Ayalon

No one knew of his existence until the shroud of secrecy was briefly
lifted after a story appeared on the Ynet news website, owned by
Israel's leading Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

Quoting unidentified officials within the Israeli penitentiary service,
it disclosed that Mr X was being held in Unit 15, a wing of Ayalon
prison that contains a single cell.

He is not though to receive any visitors and his wing is cut off from
the rest of the prison by double iron doors. So hermetic are the
conditions in which he is held that other prisoners can neither see nor
hear him.

"He is simply a person without a name and without an identity who has
been placed in total and utter isolation from the outside world," a
prison official was quoted as saying.

Within hours, the story had vanished from the newspaper's website,
allegedly after Israel's domestic intelligence service won a gagging
order banning all media coverage of the case.

The attempt to redraw the veil has had only limited success, however,
with the disappearance of the story serving only to whet the interests
of human rights activists in Israel, who have now launched a campaign to
force the state to unmask Mr X and disclose his crimes.

Dan Yakir, chief legal counsel for the Association for Civil Rights in
Israel, the country's oldest human rights group, said: "There is no
information on whether this person has been charged, whether he has been
tried or whether he has been convicted."

In a letter to the Israeli attorney general last week which has yet to
receive a response, Mr Yakir protested the secrecy surrounding Mr X's

"It is insupportable that, in a democratic country, authorities can
arrest people in complete secrecy and disappear them from public view
without the public even knowing such an arrest took place," he wrote.

Amid the intrigue and the silence of the domestic press, Mr X's cause
has also been taken up by influential Jewish bloggers, most notably
Richard Silverstein, a US-based commentator who has played a leading
role in forcing Israel to drop gagging orders in recent months.

While there has been little but speculation as to what Mr X may have
done, there can be little doubt about the importance attached to him by
the state for he is being held in the cell specially built to house
Yigal Amir, the Israeli extremist who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin, the
former prime minister, in 1995.

But one Israeli security expert said that the secrecy suggested
espionage rather than terrorism is likely to lie at the heart of the

In 1983, Marcus Klingberg, a leading Israeli scientist, was jailed for
20 years for passing secrets about the country's biological warfare
programme to the Soviets. But it was only after he had been in prison
for a decade that Israelis heard for the first time about Klingberg's
existence, arrest and conviction.

Mr X is being held in the same prison as Mordechai Vanunu, the
whistle-blower who revealed Israeli nuclear secrets before he was lured
out of Britain by a Mossad honeytrap in 1986 and jailed for 18 years.

Vanunu was sent back to prison last month for talking to foreigners, in
violation of his parole.

Israel's prison service has declined to confirm or deny the existence of
Mr X on security grounds.

(6) Ayalon Prison also was used to hold John Demjanjuk


Ayalon-Gefängnis is one of several prisons in Ramla, Israel. John
Demjanjuk was kept here in 1986.[1] The part for solitary confinement
was built for Yigal Amir. It was also used for Prisoner X who is
reported to have killed himself in his cell in December 2010.[2]

This page was last modified on 13 February 2013 at 11:07

(7) Zygier role in Dubai assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh


Ben Zygier: ASIO suspect who died in Israeli jail

February 14, 2013

Ruth Pollard

WHEN Ben Zygier died alone in a maximum-security prison in Israel he was
under investigation by ASIO, which suspected him of using his Australian
passport to spy for Israel, Fairfax Media can reveal.

Benji, as he was known in Jerusalem, reacted angrily when Fairfax Media
confronted him in early 2010 with allegations that he was working for
Israel's security agency, Mossad.

"Who the f--- are you?" an incredulous Mr Zygier asked Fairfax's then
Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis. "What is this total bullshit
you are telling me?"

He expressed shock at the suggestion he was under any kind of
surveillance and said that he had also changed his name for personal

"I have never been to any of those countries that you say I have been
to," Mr Zygier said. "I am not involved in any kind of spying. That is

Koutsoukis said: "He was at first angry, then exasperated that I
wouldn't accept his denials at what I was putting to him.

"He told me he was like any other Australian who had made aliyah
[immigration to Israel] and was trying to make a life in Israel."

Fairfax Media spoke to Mr Zygier in Israel in early 2010 after learning
that ASIO was investigating at least three dual Australian-Israeli
citizens who had emigrated to Israel in the past decade. At the time,
ASIO would not comment on the case. On Wednesday, the agency again
refused to comment.

Each of the men had travelled back to Australia separately to change
their names and obtain a new passport, two intelligence sources said at
the time in Koutsoukis' story published in The Age.

One man had changed his name three times, and others had changed theirs
twice, the source said, from names that identified them as
European-Jewish to ones that were Anglo-Australian.

In each case, the men had used the new passports to travel to Iran,
Syria and Lebanon - all countries that do not recognise Israel and do
not allow Israelis, or anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport,
to enter. Israel also bans its citizens from travelling to these
countries for security reasons.

Along with his Ben Zygier identity, he also used Ben Alon, Ben Allen and
Benjamin Burrows.

At the time, Fairfax Media was investigating the men's involvement with
a European communications company that had a subsidiary in the Middle
East. The company's chief executive denied the men were ever employed by
the organisation.

It is believed - although Fairfax Media has been unable to confirm -
that Mr Zygier travelled back to Australia in 2009 to do an MBA at
Monash University.

A source at the time observed him over several days sitting with a group
of students from Saudi Arabia and Iran at the university's Caulfield campus.

The source said: "[Australian Taxation Office] records from 2008 show
that he applied for and was approved a HECS loan for postgraduate
studies at Monash University where he is currently [November 2009]

Since 2006, Monash has been involved in education in Middle Eastern
countries, and in 2007 it proposed an initiative for higher-degree
students from Saudi Arabia.

Apart from his move to Israel and his MBA study, little is known about
Mr Zygier's movements over the decade before he died, except that he was
working in insurance law at the Australian firm Deacons in 2002.

In Israel Mr Zygier married a local woman with whom he had two children,
the ABC reported.

It was well known that Israel approached people who emigrated from other
countries to assist it by handing over their passports, an Israeli
intelligence expert told Fairfax in 2010.

"Their names are used later but the person providing the passport is not
involved," the expert said.

It is understood the ASIO investigation into Mr Zygier and the two other
men began at least six months before the January 10, 2010, assassination
of senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have
been carried out by Mossad using Australian and European passports.

Three of those suspected of taking part in the assassination were
travelling on Australian passports, using the names of dual
Australian-Israeli citizens, authorities in Dubai confirmed.

There is no suggestion that the three Australian names linked to
Mabhouh's assassination are connected to Mr Zygier or the other men
investigated by ASIO.

After initially denying the Australian government had any knowledge that
one of its citizens was detained in Israel, Foreign Minister Bob Carr
said some officers in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were
aware of his detention.

The revelations raises questions about how much the Australian
government knew about the conditions under which Mr Zygier was being
held in the maximum security Ayalon Prison.

The ABC's Foreign Correspondent program, which named Mr Zygier as
"Prisoner X", said he hanged himself in the specially constructed cell
that was meant to be suicide proof.

Mr Zygier was held in isolation - and in secret - in Unit 15, a separate
wing of Ayalon Prison that contains just a single cell in Israel's most
secure prison in Ramla, near Tel Aviv.

The cell is believed to have been built for Yigal Amir, who murdered
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995.

It is described as a cell within a block within a prison. The inmate in
Unit 15 was allowed no visitors and even after his death his identity
was a state secret, protected by a court-issued gag order despite
continuing protests from human rights groups.

"He is simply a person without a name and without an identity who has
been placed in total and utter isolation from the outside world," a
prison official was quoted as saying in the Israeli media in 2010, when
news of "Prisoner X" first broke, and was then suppressed.

It is unclear what, if anything, Australia was told by the Israeli
authorities about the death in custody of one of its citizens, or
whether any consular assistance was provided to Mr Zygier during his
time in solitary confinement.

(8) Australian passports used by Mossad in Dubai assassination; Zygier
probably wanted to blow the whistle


Doubts over Prisoner X suicide claims

7.30 By Hayden Cooper, wires

ABC News, Australia

February 14, 2013

It is a tragic tale of intrigue and espionage stretching from the Middle
East to Melbourne, but new light has now been shed on what may have led
to the death of Prisoner X.

Tuesday's Foreign Correspondent investigation prised open the case of
Prisoner X, a man now understood to be an agent of Mossad - Israel's
notorious intelligence agency - and who was also an Australian.

Ben Zygier, 34, allegedly killed himself in a top secret, supposedly
suicide-proof Israeli prison cell in 2010. He was accused of espionage
and treason.

There are now claims his arrest may have had something to do with the
assassination of a top Hamas official in 2010 and the Australian
passport scandal in the same year.

Doubts have also been cast over whether he took his own life.

One of his Israeli lawyers who met him just days before his death says
he gave no indication he was going to commit suicide.

"When I saw him, there was nothing to indicate he was going to commit
suicide," said Avigdor Feldman, a top human rights lawyer.

In an interview with Israel's army radio, Mr Feldman said he had met
Prisoner X to offer him advice ahead of his trial.

"His family asked that I meet him to advise him. The trial hadn't
properly started yet," he said, indicating the prisoner had already been
indicted and that talks were under way with senior prosecutors to reach
a plea bargain.

"He asked for advice and I sat and listened to him. Not that I'm a
psychologist, but he appeared rational, focused, he spoke clearly about
the issue and didn't exude any sense of self-pity."

A day or two later, Mr Feldman's liaison at the prison rang him to say
the prisoner had died.

The lawyer admitted he was surprised "that a man who was being held in a
cell like that, a cell which was being monitored and checked 24-hours a
day, could manage to commit suicide by hanging himself."

Mr Feldman, who said he knew the prisoner's real name and had access to
the file on his arrest but was unable to give any details for legal
reasons, said it was clear the detainee was facing a very long jail term.

"I understood that he was told he was likely to face the longest
possible jail term and that he was likely to be ostracised by his
family," he said.

He would be the last person on earth that I would guess would take his
own life, especially being in a high security prison where there's
nothing to hang from.

Back in Melbourne, Zygier family friend Henry Greener also doubts the
official suicide story.

"He had everything to live for and that's why the death being noted as
suicide comes as a great surprise to us all," he said.

"He would be the last person on earth that I would guess would take his
own life, especially being in a high security prison where there's
nothing to hang from."

Mr Zygier came from a prominent Jewish family in Melbourne.

In the 1990s he studied law at Monash University, before moving to
Israel in his 20s, where he did military service and married.

After several years, he returned to Melbourne and went back to Monash to
study an MBA.

By then, reports say he was already working for Mossad.

Mr Greener, who presents a Jewish program on Melbourne community
television and has known the Zygier family since before Ben was born,
says Ben had a good family life.

"He matured beautifully, he was very happy, he was in a relationship and
married and having children," he said.

"He seemed to be really happy living in Israel, loved living there. He
had a social conscience and for him it was important to be living there
because there are so many social issues in Israel."

But Mr Greener says neither he, nor the Zygier family, know what what
happened in 2010.

"We didn't know anything about what happened to him except there were
whispers about him being in Mossad and whispers about detention and
something went horribly wrong," he said.

From his home in Seattle, author and blogger Richard Silverstein has
been following the case.

"My understanding of what he was doing in Australia was he was going
back a couple of times and getting new passports and different
identities that they could use for other Mossad operations, he
registered in an MBA at the Monash campus and he was seen with Saudi
students and Iranian students so he might've been doing recruitment on
campus," he said.

"That's relatively mundane, everyday activity that Mossad engages in."

Passport scandal

January 2010 was a delicate time for Mossad and for Australia-Israeli

Australian passports had been used by Mossad agents sent to assassinate
Mahmoud Al-Mabouh, a senior Hamas official, in Dubai.

Soon after - connected or not - Mr Zygier found himself in prison.

Mr Silverstein says Mr Zygier may have been caught up in the
assassination operation.

"It's entirely possible he was involved in this operation in some
capacity, it's also possible that the assassination itself may have
turned him away from what Mossad was doing," he said.

"You can't really rule anything out."

Mr Greener agrees something went horribly wrong.

"Beginning of 2010, where there is the passport issue, the Dubai
assassination that occurred and apparently Ben was put under suspicion
as one of the people who might've been involved in that whole affair,"
he said.

Back in Canberra it seems Australian spies were watching.

ASIO had reportedly been investigating three Australian-Israeli citizens
suspected of spying.

It was through ASIO that news of the jailing of Mr Zygier first reached
Australian diplomats.

Since Tuesday's Foreign Correspondent report aired, Foreign Affairs
Minister Bob Carr has sent mixed messages, first saying Australia knew
nothing about the prisoner before his death.

But today it was revealed diplomats did know about his detention in
February 2010, 10 months before the Australian killed himself in prison.

"When information is received through intelligence channels then
obviously it doesn't find its way into your normal consular filing
system and so when we were checking our consular files there was not
that relevant information, we've since pieced more of it together," DFAT
secretary Peter Varghese said.

'Crisis of conscience'

So what did this young Australian do that landed him in a high security
Israeli prison?

Reports from the region suggest he was facing serious charges of
espionage of helping Israel's enemies.

Mr Silverstein says there are several possibilities.

"If this was a betrayal of the state for financial reasons in which he
was turned by another country's security intelligence services and went
to work for another country for financial reasons or whatever reasons,"
he said.

"The other possibility which I'm more inclined to is there might've been
a crisis of conscience of some kind, he might've been involved in
activities he found repellent and he might've wanted to get out of the
situation or blow the whistle on whatever he was engaged in."

Mr Greener has a similar theory.

"I think it was a very personal thing where Ben did something, it wasn't
very well received by his superiors, he went into jail for it and
unfortunately he didn't come out alive," he said.

In Israel, the Australian's detention and death have had virtually no
coverage until now.

The government's gag order has been partially lifted.

An Israeli court statement sheds some light on the case, but not much.

"The inmate was registered under a false identity for security reasons,
but his family was notified immediately upon his arrest," the statement

"The president has submitted the case to the state prosecutor's office
to examine aspects of negligence."

Mr Zygier's secret incarceration and death have also created a political
uproar in Israel.

"Obscure prisoners kill themselves, no one knows about their existence.
How is this on a par with a proper democracy, with a proper rule of
law?" Israeli MP Zehava Galon has asked.

Three years since the saga began, the mystery of the young man's death
is slowly unravelling for those who were close to him.

"Everybody loved Ben, he was considered to be a top boy, he always was,"
Mr Greener said.

(9) Publication of Zygier's photo will blow numerous Mossad operations


By Michael Omer-Man

Published February 13, 2013

Why Israel will continue trying to keep 'Prisoner X' a secret

If the reports — and unraveling details — about Ben Zygier’s work with
the Mossad are true, Israel has every reason to try and keep his
existence and identity a secret, however superflous those efforts may be.

As details about the life, work and untimely demise of ‘Prisoner X’
unravel, the most intriguing unanswered questions remain: why did Israel
secretly imprison him and why he is dead? But the details of the story
appear to be making one thing clear; Israel’s security services likely
had every reason in the world to (try to) keep the affair and Ben
Zygier’s identity a secret.

Like most spy stories, nothing about Prisoner X, his true identity, what
he did or didn’t do for Israel’s Mossad or even how he died is known
with any degree of certainty. But as various reports and accounts –
mostly from Australia, but others from Israel and around the world –
come out, pieces of a puzzle begin to take shape into a picture that
resembles a spy thriller, possibly gone horribly wrong.

The original ABC investigative report, which revealed Ben Zygier as the
highly-censored ‘Prisoner X,’ identified him as an Australian-born Jew
who emigrated to Israel in his early twenties. From his age at the time
he immigrated and pictures of him in an IDF uniform, it is safe to
assume that he was drafted into the army soon after arriving in the
country. Those details, though unconfirmed like every other part of the
story, are the most reasonable and normal parts of the story. He would
have been only one of thousands of Diaspora Jews who move to Israel as
young adults and volunteer to serve in the IDF.

From there, the story gets much more interesting. At some point, it
appears Zygier returned to Australia where he changed his name to Ben
Allen and took out a new passport under that non-Jewish-sounding name.
That, in and of itself, it appears, was enough to spark the interest of
the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO).

The ABC report stated:

In 2010 ASIO suspected that several Australian Jews were working for
Mossad, after changing their names from European or Jewish names to
Anglo names. Then with new Australian passports and Australian accents,
they could travel freely in the Arab world and to places like Iran, to
destinations where no Israeli could venture.
Israel has long been suspected of having a hand in covert operations
within Iran in efforts to sabotage, spy on and subvert that country’s
suspected military nuclear program. But from the assassinations of
nuclear scientists to explosions at nuclear research and development
facilities, it is difficult to believe that whatever intelligence agency
(or agencies) was behind those events did not have agents on the ground,
whether to carry out the covert operations themselves or to train and
equip Iranian opposition groups to do the work on its behalf.

Other operations widely attributed to the Mossad, such as the 2008
assassination of senior Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyah in Syria,
would also likely have required agents on the ground, either to carry
out the work themselves or train and equip others.

The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday reported that Zygier, aka Ben
Allen, aka Benjamin Burrows, was one of at least three dual
Australian-Israeli citizens under investigation by ASIO. All reportedly
changed their names at least once and took out new passports under their

“The men had used the new passports to travel to Iran, Syria and
Lebanon,” the Herald reported. Additionally, the three were reportedly
involved with a straw company that sold electronics equipment to Iran.

As former Australian intelligence agent Warren Reed explained to ABC, it
is greatly advantageous to use Australian nationals and their passports
for covert intelligence work.

Australians abroad are generally seen to be fairly innocent. It’s a
clean country, it has a good image like New Zealand. There aren’t many
countries like that so our nationality and anything connected with it
can be very useful in intelligence work.
If Zygier was a Mossad agent and did indeed travel to Iran, Syria and
Lebanon under a new name, it is entirely plausible that he took part in
any number of covert operations attributed to Israel. If that is the
case, and it is unlikely we’ll ever know, it becomes clear why Israel
would jump through so many hoops to try and keep his identity a secret.

Almost by definition, a covert operative in enemy territory puts his or
her own life at risk, but they also work with others – both local
recruited agents and often foreign intelligence operatives. By revealing
Zygier’s identity, if he is who it appears he may be, anyone he ever
worked with is suddenly at risk.

Just by publishing his photo, any competent intelligence agency can
begin to put together the pieces of how attacks and intelligence
operations targeting them transpired. Analysts can review photos and
video footage containing the exposed agent and discover the identities
of those he worked and traveled with. The careers of covert operatives
can be ended. The lives of those agents they recruited will likely come
to a swift end. But from an operational perspective, years of work
installing equipment and building networks for intelligence collection
and sabotage can vanish overnight. Any responsible spy agency would
themselves dismantle those networks the moment they fear any serious

If Zygier was a covert Israeli operative, it is absolutely clear why the
Mossad and the entire Israeli government would want to prevent his
identity from being made public. Its work in whatever countries he may
have operated in are likely over. It would take years to rebuild the
networks that were destroyed.

We will never likely know the full story of why Israel put Zygier into
secret detention. But one angle revealed in recent (foreign) news
reports does provide – highly speculative – clues as to why his (second)
country might have stopped trusting him to the point of making him
disappear into one of the most secure prison facilities in Israel.

One acquaintance of Zygier’s from 1994, long before he would have ever
joined the Israeli army, let alone any clandestine service, spoke
anonymously to JTA after news of the affair broke Tuesday. He “never
struck me as someone who was stable, he said, adding, “Ben talked too much.”

In another account published Wednesday, of when an Australian journalist
actually accused Zygier of working for the Mossad in early 2010, the
suspected spy reacted strangely and angrily, in a demeanor one would not
expect from a trained spy.

“Who the f–k are you?” an incredulous Mr Zygier told Fairfax’s then
Middle East correspondent, Jason Koutsoukis. “What is this total
bullshit you are telling me?”
If the Mossad did believe Zygier was mentally unstable and either was
likely to, or had already revealed too much about his clandestine work
for Israel, it is almost understandable why they would want him to
disappear. It’s also possible that Zygier’s demise was a result of
treachery, accidental exposure, an impending Moshe Vanunu-type planned
public exposé, or a host of other spy novel-esque scenarios.

What actually happened? We may never know. But as the story unravels, it
is becoming clearer and clearer why Israel would have wanted it to
remain a secret.

For an alternate analysis, read Dimi Reider’s take here

Update: On Wednesday night, Israel officially acknowledged that in 2010
it held a dual Israeli citizen under a false name in secret detention,
which it described as court ordered. The statement added that the
prisoner was represented by three lawyers, whom it named, and that his
family was notified after his arrest. The acknowledgement did not name
Prisoner X or give any reason for his detention but said an inquiry
ruled his death to be a suicide and that a further probe looked into
whether negligence played a role in his death.

(10) Zygier visited Iran undercover for Mossad; recruited Saudi, Iranian
students at Australian Uni


Ben Zygier Visited Iran Undercover for Mossad, Recruited Saudi, Iranian
Students at Australian University


on FEBRUARY 13, 2013

UPDATE:Israel has just released (Hebrew and English) its first official
statement about its treatment of Ben Zygier. It has acknowledged
without specifically naming him that it held a prisoner under a
fictitious name and that the prisoner died in custody. The State said
that it had notified Zygier’s family of his detention. It said it would
investigate the possibility of negligence in his treatment while in prison.

In an effort to address the charge that Zygier received shoddy judicial
treatment, the government also revealed that he had lawyers. He was
represented by the same firm that represented Ehud Olmert and which
often deals in cases with the security apparatus. But they are not
attorneys known for taking on human rights cases. The claim by the
State that Zygier was afforded all rights due to him as a citizen and
that all legal proceedings were proper seems either laughable on its
face or an outright lie.

The statement also claims Zygier was held under the auspices of the
justice ministry. The minister is Yaakov Neeman, the same individual
who spoke from the Knesset rostrum answsering questions of MKs yesterday
claiming that he knew nothing of the case and that Zygier was never
under his ministry’s jurisdiction. An outright lie. A further odd
development in the story is the news that Zygier, who trained as a
lawyer, interned in the legal firm of the current justice minister: none
other than Mr. Neeman!

An Israeli judge oversaw a supposed investigation into the circumstances
of his death, but the findings are secret. Six weeks ago, the file was
allegedly sent by the judge to the State prosecutor for investigation of
the possibility of negligence involved in the death. This is supposed
to satisfy us I suppose.

Besides the three MKs who asking probing questions of Neeman that
elicited his lies, another hero of the proceedings was Binyamin Ben
Eliezer, acting Speaker, who was asked by the military censor to tell
MKs that there was a gag order in place that prohibited discussion of
the matter. Ben Eliezer refused to relay the message to the legislators
and the debate continued without interruption. * *

The Prisoner X-Ben Zygier case continues to develop. I will be
interviewed by Israeli Channel 10¢s Tzinor Layla at 12 midnight Israel
time. It will be the first story up in the program. The Social TV
video above was recorded about 48 hours ago and reflects what I knew at
the time. But it’s still useful as an overview of the entire case.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an interesting report that includes
material they reported back in 2010 about Zygier’s spying within
Australia on behalf of the Mossad. He was accused then by Australia’s
intelligence agency of applying multiple times for passports in
different names including Ben Alon, Ben Allen and Benjamin Burrows. This
is a sure sign among the world’s intelligence agencies that their
nation’s passports are being used for espionage purposes.

This occurred shortly before three passports of Australian-Israeli dual
citizens were cloned by the Mossad and used in the assassination of
Mahmoud al-Mabouh. Though there isn’t necessarily any direct connection
between Zygier’s activities and the Dubai episode.

The news report also notes that Zygier enrolled at Monash University
(where his mother worked) in an MBA program. While there he was
allegedly seen socializing on campus with groups of Saudi and Iranian
students. This might mean that just as Zygier himself was recruited to
the Mossad, he may’ve been recruiting potential agents. Presumably these
students would eventually return to their home countries where they
might serve useful purposes for Israeli intelligence.

It appears likely that Zygier used his new passports for travel to Iran
(and also possibly Lebanon and Syria). I reported that the ships of
Israel’s Ofer Brothers were suspected by the U.S. of breaking the
international sanctions regime against Iran. The reason they did was,
at least in part, to ferry Mossad agents to and from Iran. One of them
may possibly have been Zygier. In addition, several of the agents
involved in the al-Mabouh assassination left Dubai via ferry to Iran.
Israel is known to have an MEK-facilitated spy network inside Iran which
helped in the nuclear scientist assassinations and other sabotage
efforts. It’s possible an Ofer Brothers ship took those agents back to
Israel. Again, this is speculation but based on known facts I’ve
reported earlier.

What’s important about this is that these three countries are places in
which the Mossad is very active (or wishes to be). In Iran, the Mossad
has participated in acts of terror against the regime including the
assassination of five nuclear scientists. Israel has also attacked
Syria at least twice in the past four years, which required on the
ground assistance from either agents or special forces who infiltrated
the country in both cases. Israel also assassinated Imad Mugniyeh and a
Syrian general in the past few years. Each would’ve required agents
covertly operating on Syria territory.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has asked the Israeli
government to remove the gag order in this case. It also posed several
pressing questions about how it treated Ben Zygier after he was
arrested. Among them, it asked on what basis Israel determined that
Zygier had committed suicide and whether there was any evidence his
death may’ve occured through other means. This is an allusion to rumors
that he may’ve been murdered in prison by the authorities. Though I
stress that these are rumors and not established facts.

ACRI also asks who was monitoring the prisoner and why they allowed him
to kill himself? Which agency and specific personnel were responsible?
What, if any actions were taken in the aftermath of his death? Regarding
his detention by the Mossad/Shin Bet, what actions did they take to
determine how Zygier was able to do the things he did which may’ve
endangered Israel. Was there any internal review of the entire incident
and what were the results of it?

In the national security state, questions are almost never answered
transparently or publicly, but it’s important they be asked to hold
officials responsible.

I spoke today with a representative of an Israeli human rights NGO and
asked what he knew about any legal process that might’ve happened in
Zygier’s case. I’ve heard Channel 10¢s chief political correspondent
interviewed yesterday, saying there was none. But this human rights
officer said he couldn’t comment on the matter. Which is exceedingly
interesting. It could mean, if Channel 10¢s report is correct, that
Zygier received no due process or trial, in which case Israel was had
violated its own laws and rights of not just an Israeli citizen, but an
Australian citizen. This would involve grave implications for
Australia-Israel relations. Or it could mean Zygier received some sort
of secret Israeli trial which again would be unprecedented under Israeli
law. The only other individual whose treatment parallels this was KGB
spy, Marcus Klingberg, who I’ve mentioned in previous posts on this issue.

I just spoke to an Israeli human rights lawyer who believes that Zygier
was likely afforded some very basis legal process, but that it is
unprecedented for there to be a secret indictment, secret trial, and
secret detention. He also believes if that is the case, Zygier had to
have an attorney. Given what transpired I believe it’s unlikely an
Israeli attorney would want to own up to the fact that his or her
representation was so ineffective that his client despaired and killed
himself. I also believe it’s unprecedented for there to remain a gag
order against discussing a case years after the defendant has died.

Yesterday, 28,000 people visited this site, one of the largest amounts
of visitors ever seen here. By noon today, I expect nearly 10,000
visitors. Over 60% came from Israel, starving for information on this
case of vital national importance. It’s disturbing they couldn’t turn
to their own press for original reporting. The partial Israel gag
allows only reporting on this story originating abroad. Imagine you
live in Paducah and there’s a corruption scandal involving the city
council. But the police chief tells your local paper it can’t report on
the story. Instead the only source of information you have will be a
newspaper reporting from Toronto or Melbourne. Make sense? That’s
Israel for you.

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