Israel finally recognises the life and death of 'Prisoner X'

 

Jerusalem

Israel has partially lifted a gagging order in the mysterious case of ‘Prisoner X’ and formally recognised that an Israeli with dual citizenship had committed suicide in one of the country’s most secure prisons in 2010.

Earlier this week the Australian television network, ABC, broadcast a devastating documentary which claimed that ‘Prisoner X’ was an Australian-Israeli called Ben Zygier, a former Mossad agent whose incarceration was so secret that even his jailors didn’t know his name.

The Israeli Justice Ministry issued a statement, which makes no mention of Zygier's name, but it does concede, for the first time, that a man was held in a maximum security prison and that he died as a result of suicide.

“For security reasons, the prisoner was held under a pseudonym, but his family was notified of the arrest immediately. The prisoner was held by proxy of an arrest warrant issued by the court. The proceedings were overseen by senior officials in the Justice Ministry and he was duly represented in all the proceedings against him by attorneys Roi Belcher, Moshe Mazor and Boaz Ben-Zur,” the statement read. “The prisoner's legal rights were observes at all times, according to the law.”

The ministry’s statement said that six weeks ago, the investigation found that suicide was the cause of the prisoner’s death, however, a judge had recommended that the state investigate a negligence investigation.”

“National security prevents the release of any other details in this case,” the statement said.

The Israeli government hastily called a meeting of senior journalists and editors on Tuesday, warning them not to publish the story. The exact nature of what crime Zygier is supposed to have committed remains a mystery, and it appears that even Australian officials in Canberra were unaware of the case until earlier this week.

Leading Israeli human rights lawyer Avigdor Feldman told the Ynet news website: “I'm the last lawyer who saw him alive. They asked me to see him and a day after that he was gone. When I saw him, I saw no signs that he was going to kill himself. He sounded rational and he asked pertinent legal questions, that I can't expand on.”

Zygier was thought to be 34 years old when died and left behind an Israeli wife and two young daughters. It has been widely reported that he was an agent in the Mossad. Neither his Israeli nor Australian family have spoken about the circumstances of Zygier’s death, or what he was being held for.

It is understood that he died in Israel’s high security Ayalon prison, which is used to house Israel’s worst offenders, including Yigal Amir, the right-wing fanatic who killed then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

He died on 15 December 2010 and his funeral was held in Melbourne a week later – however, his body was transported back to Australia under the name of Ben Allen, the same name used on Zygier’s second passport.

Australia ordered an inquiry into the case. The inquiry will focus on the suggestion that some foreign ministry officials – possibly diplomats based at the embassy in Tel Aviv – had been made aware in 2010 that Mr Zygier was being held in jail in Israel, but had not passed on the information to officials in Canberra.

“DFAT [Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade] had advised that it was unaware of Mr Allen's detention in Israel,” a spokesman said.

“DFAT has now advised that some officers of the department were made aware of Mr Allen's detention at the time in 2010 by another Australian agency.”

The Australian newspaper The Age reported that Zygier was under investigation by Australian intelligence in the months before he was arrested in Israel. He was being looked into for fraudulent use of his Australian passport for espionage purposes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game