The curious case of Prisoner X: Australia knew about Ben Zygier's arrest in 2010
Israel confirmed it jailed a foreigner in solitary confinement on security grounds who later committed suicide, with Australia admitting it knew one of its citizens had been detained. (AFP Photo/William West)
Click here to add ABC as an alert
Disable alert for ABC,
Click here to add Australian government as an alert
Disable alert for Australian government,
Click here to add Australian intelligence as an alert
Disable alert for Australian intelligence,
Click here to add Ben Alon as an alert
Disable alert for Ben Alon,
Click here to add Ben Zygier (Ben Allen) as an alert
Disable alert for Ben Zygier (Ben Allen),
Click here to add Bob Carr as an alert
Disable alert for Bob Carr,
Click here to add Herzog as an alert
Disable alert for Herzog,
Click here to add Israeli government as an alert
Disable alert for Israeli government,
Click here to add Mossad as an alert
Disable alert for Mossad,
Click here to add Senate Committee as an alert
Disable alert for Senate Committee,
Click here to add Yaakov Neeman as an alert
Disable alert for Yaakov Neeman
Australia admitted on Thursday to knowing Australian-Israeli citizen codenamed Prisoner X was arrested in 2010 on serious security charges, AP reported.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said intelligence sources had informed the Australian government of the arrest of Ben Zygier, also known as Ben Allen and Ben Alon in Israel.
"The Australian government was informed in February 2010 through intelligence channels that the Israeli authorities had detained a dual Australian-Israeli citizen, and they provided the name of the citizen, in relation to serious offences under Israeli national security legislation," Carr told a Senate committee.
Israel acknowledged it had detained Ben Zygier on Wednesday. Zygier was found dead in his cell a month after his arrest and detention at a maximum security prison, despite there being high-tech surveillance systems in place intended to prevent suicide.
The affair sheds new light on the apparently strained relations between Australia and Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, Mossad.
Australia reportedly sought assurances Zygier would have his legal rights respected and would not be mistreated.
"The Israeli government further advised the Australian government that the individual would be treated in accordance with his lawful rights as an Israeli citizen," Carr said.
Carr told an ABC program that aired on Tuesday that he only became aware of Zygier’s arrest after his death. He backtracked on Wednesday, ordering his department to review its handling of the case.
In an unusual twist to the case, Israeli TV reported Zygier had worked for Israel’s Justice Minister, Yaakov Neeman’s law firm, Herzog, Fox & Neeman.
According to Israeli TV, Zygier was interrogated by Australian intelligence officers in 2009 abour trips to Iran, Syria and Lebanon.
- Prisoner X case: Was Australian Mossad agent involved in cyber-war against Iran?
- Mysterious Prisoner X worked for Israeli government, Australian foreign minister says
- Israel’s ‘jackal’: Was Prisoner X an Australian Mossad agent?
- Lebanon arrests 945 individuals in February: report
- Dubai denies cooperation over infamous Israeli 'Prisoner X'