Daily Israel Report

Israel Denies 'Prisoner X' Gave Info to Australia

Israel denies that 'Prisoner X' Ben Zygier had any contact with Australia's security services.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/20/2013, 4:14 AM

Close up of Zygier's tombstone
Close up of Zygier's tombstone
Reuters

Israel denied on Tuesday that a man identified by media as an Australian-Israeli Mossad agent who committed suicide in jail had any contact with Australia's security services.

"Following recent publications, the prime minister's office stresses that the late Zygier had no contact with the Australian security services and organizations," the Prime Minister Office’s said in a statement, in Israel's first mention of Ben Zygier by name.

“The Prime Minister's Office would like to note that between the Government of Israel and all its agencies, and the Government of Australia and the Australian security agencies, there is excellent cooperation, full coordination and complete transparency in dealing with current issues,” noted the statement.

On Monday, Australian network ABC said Zygier was arrested after giving Australian intelligence officials a comprehensive account of a number of Mossad operations.

Former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said on Tuesday he believed Zygier's felony was "more serious" than just a leak to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

"I suspect it was something more serious than just sharing information with ASIO," he told ABC radio, according to a report in AFP.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Rishon Lezion court authorized the release of part of a report on the investigation surrounding the imprisonment and death of Zygier, who had come to be known as “Prisoner X.”

Among the details revealed in the report: Zygier “definitely” committed suicide, and was not “disappeared” by Israeli authorities for threatening to reveal or revealing Mossad secrets. He killed himself using a sheet that was in his cell.

However, even though his death was self-inflicted, the report said, the Israeli Prisons Service and others responsible for Zygier's detention and imprisonment were not without guilt in the matter.

“It is very possible that the Prisons Service officials involved in the case could be charged with death by negligence,” the court said, since they clearly did not take the necessary steps to prevent Zygier's suicide.

Taking all the evidence into account, the court added, “there seems to be enough evidence to say that it was the errors of the Prisons Service that caused Zygier's death.”