Israeli officials say Australian intelligence knew all about Ben Zygier case

The Australian reports: Australia has not made a single request for information about the Ben Zygier case since news of the alleged spy’s incarceration and death in an Israeli prison broke publicly this week.

Amid a storm of speculation about the reason for the suspected Mossad agent’s jailing, including the claim he may have been about to divulge information about Australian passport fraud, a senior Israeli official said Canberra was unlikely to make a request because the Gillard government already had detailed knowledge of the case.

“Every day that goes by you see how deeply involved they were,” the official told The Weekend Australian.

“They interrogated him, they suspected him, they knew many things.

“It is clear they were in the know long before he died.

“Then when the coffin was returned to Australia, they knew he was not some backpacker who got lost trekking.”

Reports this week have said the 34-year-old father of two from Melbourne was under investigation by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, along with other Israeli-Australian dual citizens, in relation to possible misuse of Australian passports.

Israel’s Channel 10 said that, in 2009, Australian intelligence officers interrogated Zygier about trips he took to Iran, Lebanon and Syria. The report alleged the case was leaked to an Australian reporter who phoned Zygier and questioned him about his alleged links to the Mossad.

The reporter, Jason Koutsoukis, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that Zygier strongly denied the allegations. Zygier was arrested shortly after they spoke.

Australian intelligence authorities were made aware of his arrest by the Israelis just days after the Dubai government released information showing that fraudulent Australian passports had been used by Mossad agents in the execution of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on January 20, 2010.

Report have suggested Zygier may have been about to divulge details of his dealings in Australian passports to either Australian intelligence authorities or the media. Zygier, who also used the names Ben Alon and Ben Allen, was suspected of returning to Australia from Israel and changing his name and passport.

Zygier was caught between two intelligence services, Israeli sources said. Mossad believed he was on the “verge” of passing information to the Australians. [Continue reading...]

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