Haaretz reports: Australian Ben Zygier – better known as “Prisoner X” who apparently committed suicide in December 2010 in Yigal Amir’s purpose-built, suicide-proof cell – confided to at least two friends that he had been recruited by Mossad, Haaretz can reveal.
One of his friends from Melbourne, who spoke on Thursday on strict condition of anonymity, said that he had met Zygier in a bar in Tel Aviv about a decade ago.
“He told me he’d just been recruited,” he said. “I was in shock. It’s the sort of thing people usually joke about but I had no reason to doubt him at all.
“Usually that sort of information would be a conversation starter. But I didn’t ask anything and he didn’t elaborate. I later found out I wasn’t the only one he told.”
The source named another of Zygier’s close friends from Hashomer Hatzair youth movement who he had also shared his state secret with.
Asked if Zygier ordinarily talked himself up, he said: “Not at all. He was very serious and very quiet.
“I don’t see Ben as someone who would have been a double agent. He was a proud Zionist.”
Most of more than a dozen of Zygier’s friends and acquaintances contacted by Haaretz declined to speak publicly as the wall of silence continued to cloak the story.
His family also declined to speak to media and the elected leadership of Australian Jewry closed its shutters this week, with some apparently fearing that the Jews in general, and Zionists in particular, may become targets if it emerges that Zygier abused his Australian passport to spy for Israel.
One of Zygier’s close friends initially declined to speak, but when asked why so many friends feared paying tribute to their 34-year-old mate from Melbourne, he said: “The silence is because people don’t know. I don’t know anything. I don’t want to know anything.
“A family that’s already suffered is suffering another tragedy. I lost a very good friend and my friend’s family lost a son,” said the friend, who spent a year in Israel with Zygier in 1994.
What could he possibly have done to prompt Israeli agents to seize him and lock him away in solitary confinement in a maximum-security cell?
“There’s only one guy who has the answers and he can’t take calls,” he said.
Another friend said the whole issue was bizarre. “People are very uncertain about what it’s all about," she said. "The biggest question seems to be – was it suicide or murder?”