Israel confirms it held 'Prisoner X'

2013-02-14 08:23
Australian newspapers lead their front pages in Australia with the story of Ben Zygier as Israel confirms it jailed a foreigner in solitary confinement on security grounds who later committed suicide. (William West, AFP)

Australian newspapers lead their front pages in Australia with the story of Ben Zygier as Israel confirms it jailed a foreigner in solitary confinement on security grounds who later committed suicide. (William West, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Jerusalem - Israel has confirmed it jailed a foreigner in solitary confinement on security grounds who later committed suicide, as Australia admitted on Thursday it knew one of its citizens had been secretly held.

The man, identified by Australian media as Mossad agent Ben Zygier, known as "Prisoner X", died in a secret prison near Tel Aviv in 2010 in a case Israel went to extreme lengths to cover up, imposing media gag orders.

Tel Aviv broke its silence after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said the man was a dual Australian-Israeli citizen and reported that he was a spy for Israel's intelligence agency.

"For security reasons the man was held under a false identity although his family was immediately informed of his arrest," Israel's justice ministry said.

The man was found dead in his cell and a judicial inquiry ruled he took his own life, the ministry added in a statement, although it did not reveal his identity or the charges against him.

"Following an extensive investigation it was ruled six weeks ago that it was suicide," said the ministry. "The prisoner was held in jail under a warrant issued by a court."

No request for consular support

But other details of the case remained under a gag order, leaving local media obliged to quote foreign reports.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr initially said he only became aware of the man's incarceration after his death, but on Thursday admitted the government knew of his detention at the time.

He told a parliamentary committee the information was gathered through intelligence channels.

"They provided the name of the citizen, in relation to serious offences under Israeli national security legislation," he said, adding that Canberra sought assurances that he was not being mistreated.

He said at no stage did the government receive any request for consular support, adding that he would determine Canberra's next step after receiving a full report from his department into the case.

"With the benefit of that full report, I'll determine what representations to the government of Israel are most useful," he said.

Media blackout

The story first emerged in June 2010 when Israel's Ynet news website briefly ran a report about a prisoner being held in top secret conditions whose identity and alleged crime were not even known to his jailers.

The story was quickly taken offline and a complete media blackout imposed, but it resurfaced on Tuesday through Australia's public broadcaster.

Israeli media did report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had on Tuesday called an urgent meeting with top editors to ask them to withhold "publication of information pertaining to an incident that is very embarrassing to a certain government agency", Haaretz newspaper said, in a clear allusion to Mossad.

Shortly afterwards, three MPs raised questions over the issue in parliament, effectively sidestepping the censor in a move that forced a slight easing of the reporting restrictions.

While Israel has not revealed the charges, The Australian newspaper suggested he was detained for treason.

It cited Israeli Army Radio as saying: "Why was he interned? The suspicion is because of treason against Israel."

The newspaper's foreign editor, who interviewed Netanyahu last year, said for a Mossad agent to end up in jail something serious must have happened.

Angry denial

"If a former Mossad agent has ended up in an Israeli prison, this can only indicate that something has gone terribly wrong," Greg Sheridan wrote.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Zygier was being investigated by Australia's overseas espionage agency ASIS, which suspected him of using his Australian passport to spy for Israel.

The Herald said he was one of at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens who emigrated to Israel in the past decade whose cases were probed.

It said that in each case the men used the passports to travel to Iran, Syria and Lebanon - countries that do not allow Israelis to enter.

When the newspaper confronted Zygier in early 2010, he angrily denied he worked for Mossad.

"I have never been to any of those countries that you say I have been to," he said at the time.

"I am not involved in any kind of spying."

Read more on:    benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  australia
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Obama votes early in Chicago

2014-10-20 22:00
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding

Learn some great skills that will help your riding on the road and on the track.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips on how to set your fitness goals
This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Senior Developer

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT

Personal Assistant

Cape Town
Evolution Recruitment
R4 000 - R15 000 Per Month

Office Manager

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Hi-Tech Recruitment - Cape Town
R15 000 - R20 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.