Daily Israel Report

Australian Expose on ‘Prisoner X’

‘Prisoner X – the Australian Connection’ looks at the Ben Zygier affair from his arrest in 2010.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/15/2013, 11:19 AM

Ayalon jail, where Zygier was held.
Ayalon jail, where Zygier was held.
Reuters

A report on the Australian network ABC led to the publication in Israel of the “Prisoner X” affair involving an Australian-Israeli man, Ben Zygier, who committed suicide while being held in an Israeli prison under a false identity.

Now the network report, “Prisoner X – The Australian Connection,” which follows Zygier’s fate, and media reports regarding the story, from the time of his arrest in 2010, will be broadcast on Israel's mainstream Channel 1.

The report states that Zygier was held in a cell built for Yigal Amir, the man who murdered then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. ABC’s correspondent described the cell as “a purpose-built, high-tech, suicide-proof prison within a prison.”

The cell had 24-hour camera surveillance aimed at preventing suicide. Zygier allegedly managed to kill himself in the cell’s bathroom, which was not monitored.

Even the guards had no idea who Zygier was or why he had been arrested, ABC reported. Other prisoners were unaware of his existence.

Israeli officials declined to share details of the story, citing state security. ABC did find someone willing to talk – the local head of the left-wing Human Rights Watch organization, who criticized Israel over the incident. “There will always be a national security justification offered by a government for you know some sort of bad treatment… It’s not an excuse,” HRW head in Israel Bill Van Esveld argued.

Esveld was also seen on the program accusing Israel of violating basic international protocol in the case by failing to inform Australia of Zygier’s arrest and death.