Thursday, February 14, 2013

Prisoner X 2

The latest developments:

"An Australian diplomat knew that Melbourne man Ben Zygier was being held in an Israeli prison before he died in his cell, the government has admitted amid explosive reports that Mr Zygier was a Mossad agent known as 'Prisoner X'. Foreign Minister Bob Carr was forced into an embarrassing backflip on Wednesday as he ordered his department to investigate the Zygier case. His office was forced to correct earlier claims that the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv knew nothing of the case until after Mr Zygier died in prison in December 2010 when his family - a prominent Jewish family in Melbourne - asked for his body to be repatriated. In a revelation that raises questions about the extent of the Australian government's knowledge, Senator Carr's spokesman said an Australian diplomat - who was not the ambassador - was aware that Mr Zygier, 34, was being held by Israeli authorities... His father, Geoffrey Zygier, executive director for B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, did not comment on Wednesday... Zygier's death in 2010 was met with more than a dozen condolence notices in the Australian Jewish News. These included notices from Monash University, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, the Jewish Holocaust Centre, and the National Council of Jewish Women. None would comment yesterday." (Australian diplomat 'aware Zygier being held', David Wroe & Ruth Pollard, The Age, 14/2/13)

"When Ben Zygier died in a maximum-security prison in Israel he was under investigation by the spy agency ASIO, which suspected him of using his Australian passport to spy for Israel, Fairfax Media can reveal. Benji, as he was known by those close to him in Jerusalem's Jewish community, reacted angrily when Fairfax Media confronted him in early 2010 with allegations that he was working for the Israeli security agency Mossad. '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?' He expressed shock at the suggestion he was under any kind of surveillance and said that he had also changed his name for personal reasons. '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 ridiculous.' 'He was at first angry, then exasperated that I wouldn't accept his denials at what I was putting to him,' Koutsoukis said. 'He told me that he was like any other Australian who had made aliyah and was trying to make a life in Israel.'

"Fairfax Media spoke to Mr Zygier after learning that ASIO was investigating at least 3 dual Australian-Israeli citizens who had all emigrated to Israel in the previous decade. ASIO would not comment. 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's story... The man had changed his name 3 times, with others having changed theirs twice, the source said, from names that identified them as European-Jewish to ones that were Anglo-Australian. 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 entry to Israelis, or anyone else with an Israeli stamp in their passport... It is believed Mr Zygier travelled back to Australia in 2009 to attend Monash University... along with his Ben Zygier identity, he also used Ben Alon, Ben Allen and Benjamin Burrows... Since 2006, Monash University has been involved in education in Middle Eastern countries... It is well known that Israel approached immigrants to assist Israel by handing over their passports, an Israeli intelligence expert told Fairfax Media in 2010. It is understood the ASIO investigation into Mr Zygier and the other 2 men began at least 6 months before the January 10, 2010 assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have been carried out by Mossad using passports obtained from Australia and Europe." (Strange fate of Benji, the suspected spy, Ruth Pollard, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/2/13)


Anonymous said...

I noticed the immediate reaction of many people when they heard of Prisoner X: the passports! A very serious question if it could cost a PM his post!
Immediately one thinks also to the Australian "Lebanese" involved in the Burgas bus blast.

Anonymous said...


This MSM fluff about passports doesn't begin to make sense. Why would he be secretly be imprisoned in Israel for somehow helping Israel even if it embarrassed Australia?

A news report cited at the richardsilverstein blog notes that Zygier enrolled at Monash University (where his mother worked) in an MBA program. Richard comments: "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."

One commentator at Richard's site notes that at the time of his arrest an Israeli spy network was exposed in Lebanon resulting in the suicide of some assets. He speculates that Zygier was a double agent working in Lebanon.

My speculation is that he may have been turned while at Monash, perhaps as the result of a "honey-trap". This also would account for the behaviour of his parents.

Perhaps more interesting from the Australian perspective, however, is the continued interest of the MSM and its focus on passports. Is there a political game afoot?


Anonymous said...

An addendum, MERC, if I may.

Another reason the passport issue is a furfy is that it is common knowledge among those carrying out business in the ME that the Australian (and UK) passport office will issue 2 passports if you are dealing with both Israel and countries that deny entry if you have an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport. Three passports may seem excessive but with the complexities of the relationships involved that too could appear both reasonable and necessary, although I have no experience of this.

So, something else is going on.