Zygier was close to blow whistle about Israeli secret missions

Last Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 13:36

Melbourne: Australian security officials have claimed that Ben Zygier, the suspected Mossad spy known only as Prisoner X, may have been close to blow the whistle on Israeli intelligence operations.

"(Zygier) may well have been about to blow the whistle, but he never got the chance," an Australian security official was quoted by a media report as saying.

He was in a process to reveal about Israeli intelligence operations, including the use of fraudulent Australian passports, either to the Australian government or to the media before he was arrested, an AAP news agency report said.

There are contradictory reports from sources in Canberra who said that Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was not informed by its Israeli counterparts of the precise nature of the espionage allegations against Zygier.

However, it has come into light that Zygier was in contact with human rights lawyer Avigdor Feldman, the day before he apparently hanged himself in an Israeli prison.

Feldman said: "When I saw him, there was nothing to indicate he was going to commit suicide," adding that he was rational, focused and without self-pity.

Feldman said he was surprised "that a man who was being held in a cell like that, a cell which was being monitored and checked 24-hours a day, could manage to commit suicide by hanging himself."

"I understood that he was told he was likely to face the longest possible jail term and that he was likely to be ostracised by his family," he said.

Australia government was informed in February 2010 through intelligence channels that the Israeli authorities had detained an Australian citizen.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday told a senate hearing, Australian government sought "specific assurances" that Zygier`s legal rights would be respected and that "the Israeli government responded that the individual would be treated in accordance with his lawful rights as an Israeli citizen. The government relied on these assurances."

34-year-old Zygier, also known as Ben Allen or Ben Alon, has been allegedly working Israel`s spy agency Mossad before being arrested and jailed in February 2010.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday revealed Australian officials became aware of his detention through "intelligence channels", and is conducting an internal review into how the case was handled.

Meanwhile, ABC reported today that Former Foreign Minister Stephen Smith declined to share information on if he was briefed about the detention of Zygier.

"I`m not proposing to be drawn on any of the issues, including - and in some respects, in particular - on that, until we`ve seen the report by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. That may well be part of his report. I`m proposing just to wait until he does that before I`m drawn on it."

PTI



First Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 13:36

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