'Prisoner X' had ties to Hezbollah double agent - reports
The man known as 'Prisoner X', who was reputedly spying for Israel before his death in jail in 2010, was trying to recruit a double agent from inside militant Lebanese group, Hezbollah, when he was arrested, Reuters reports.
According to reports in the Australian press, Ben Zygier, a 34-year-old Australian emigrant who hanged himself in prison, was on an unauthorized mission to develop contacts with Hezbollah, when police caught up with him.
Australia’s Fairfax newspapers and Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported that Zygier had accidentally given out information about his Lebanese informant sources that led to them getting jailed in their home country.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported a highly placed Israeli official as saying that Zygier had, "ended up on a precipitous path. He crossed paths with someone who was much more professional than he was.”
Israel and Hezbollah, who control much of southern Lebanon, have been warring for decades with repeated scuffles at the border. Hezbollah has previously threatened Israel with rocket attacks, while Israel has sent drones over Lebanese airspace.
According to the Australian press reports, Zygier began digging into Hezbollah in 2008, when he tried to recruit a European man known to have strong ties to the militant group.
However, the European seemingly turned on the Australian spy. When Zygier gave up the names of his two top Lebanese informants to the man, both contacts were arrested and jailed in Lebanon for 15 years.
'Prisoner X' was carrying a compact disc with suspected further information for the European when he was arrested in 2010.
Israel has refused to discuss the details of the case, going as far as issuing gag orders on local media attempting to investigate the death.