Israel’s ‘Prisoner X’: An Australian suspected of Mossad links who the Israeli government ‘disappeared’

Australia’s ABC News reports: Evidence has been unearthed that strongly suggests Israel’s infamous Prisoner X, who was jailed under extraordinary circumstances in 2010, was an Australian national from Melbourne.

Investigations by the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program have revealed Ben Zygier, who used the name Ben Alon in Israel, was found hanged in a high-security cell at a prison near Tel Aviv in late 2010.

His body was flown to Melbourne for burial a week later.

The death goes part of the way to explain the existence in Israel of a so-called Prisoner X, widely speculated in local and international media as an inmate whose presence has been acknowledged by neither the jail system nor the government.

The case is regarded as one of the most sensitive secrets of Israel’s intelligence community, with the government going to extraordinary lengths to stifle media coverage and gag attempts by human rights organisations to expose the situation.

The Prisoner X cell is a jail within a jail at Ayalon Prison in the city of Ramla. It was built for the assassin of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The ABC understands Mr Zygier became its occupant in early 2010. His incarceration was so secret that it is claimed not even guards knew his identity.

Israeli media at the time reported that this Prisoner X received no visitors and lived hermetically sealed from the outside world.

When an Israeli news website reported that the prisoner died in his cell in December 2010, Israeli authorities removed its web pages.

An Israeli court order prohibiting any publication or public discussion of the matter is still in force; Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, has effectively blocked any coverage of the matter. [Continue reading...]

As the former Australian intelligence officer interviewed above indicates, it would be virtually impossible for someone detained as Zygier was, to commit suicide. And assuming that he had committed what the Israeli government regarded as an act of treachery, it’s frankly hard to imagine that he was recruited by another intelligence agency — with the possible exception of Australia’s. What seems more likely is that what for Israel represented a betrayal, may for Zygier have involved a crisis of conscience. But as a Mossad agent, he knew too much for Israel to take the risk of witnessing him speak out. First he disappeared, then he was permanently silenced.

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