Australia Pressing Israel For Further Details On 'Prisoner X'
The Australian government said Tuesday it will continue pushing Israel to release further details on the arrest, detention and suicide of Ben Zygier, an alleged Mossad agent who committed suicide in Israeli prison.
Zygier, an Israeli-Australian national known as "Prisoner X", was found hanged in what was supposed to be a suicide-proof prison cell in Tel Aviv in 2010, with reports this week saying he was imprisoned after passing secrets to Hizbullah.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said Canberra was continuing its dialogue with Israel regarding the case.
"I'm not aware that there has been a comprehensive accounting for what has happened," he told ABC radio.
"What gave rise to his arrest, his detention, his suicide?"
After conducting its own "internal investigations", German news weekly Der Spiegel reported this week that the classified information Zygier, 34, gave to Hizbullah led to the arrest of at least two Lebanese operatives.
According to the report, Zygier, who was raised in Melbourne but moved to Israel about a decade before his death, was ordered back to Israel from Europe in 2007 because the Israeli intelligence agency was displeased with his work.
It said Zygier took a leave of absence in 2008 and returned to Melbourne to complete his studies after trying to recruit new agents for Israel in a bid to restore his standing in the agency.
In the process he reportedly came in contact with Hizbullah supporters and while trying to recruit them to work for Mossad, spilled highly sensitive information, the report said.
This included the names of Lebanese nationals Ziad al-Homsi and Mustafa Ali Awadeh, who were arrested in May 2009 on charges of spying for Israel and later sentenced to several years of hard labor.
Zygier was suspected of using his Australian passport to spy for Israel, focusing attention on Israel's recruitment of agents with foreign travel documents.
"That would create risk for all Australians who are travelling," Carr said. "So Australia's got a clear interest, a distinct point of view on this, an objection to Australian passports being used by dual citizens who are off working for a foreign intelligence agency.
"We have asked them for all information relevant to Australia on this and we will continue to do that," he added, as reported by AFP.
Israel has said Zygier was detained under an alias to avoid severe harm to national interests.
Much of the details in the case remain under a gag order.