Prisoner X: Ben Zygier was 'Israel's biggest traitor' and 'betrayed prized Mossad agents to Hezbollah'

He is thought to have leaked damaging intelligence to Hezbollah

Jerusalem

Prisoner X, the Mossad agent who hanged himself in Israel’s highest security prison two years ago, was the country’s “biggest traitor” according to a new investigation into why he was held in secret by the Jewish state.

Israel has consistently refused to comment on the case of Prisoner X, later identified as Ben Zygier, whose actions were deemed so serious that even his guards were unaware of his name when he was held in solitary confinement in 2010. But a new probe into his case has revealed that Zygier was a “Zionist turned into a defector” after he handed over the names of two prized Lebanese spies, who were also working for Israel, to Hezbollah.

The two men – Ziad al-Homsi and Mustafa Ali Awada – were arrested in May 2009 in Lebanon and are currently serving long prison sentences.

The investigation by the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, and Australia’s Fairfax Media, claims that an ambitious Zygier had grown tired and frustrated of his work with Mossad and had quit in 2008 after becoming tired of being placed in companies trading with Iran and Syria – a typical assignment for agents with dual nationalities. Zygier was born and grew up in Australia before moving to Israel in the late 1990s.

The unnamed official said that while Zygier was “extremely sharp”, he lacked focus. When Zygier’s work with one company became erratic and it was decided “to let him go,” which led him to a mundane desk job in Tel Aviv. At this point, in order to get back into favour, it is alleged that Zygier set about working on his own projects without the knowledge of his superiors.

“Zygier wanted to achieve something that he didn’t end up getting,” an Israeli official familiar with the probe into the Zygier case told Der Spiegel and Fairfax. “And then he ended up on a precipitous path. He crossed paths with someone who was much more professional than he was.”

It appears that despite having the intention of turning a high-level European Hezbollah operative into a double-agent, Zygier was himself played. To prove his credentials to his contact Zygier gave up classified and damaging Mossad intelligence – including the names of the two Lebanese agents. He thought he was providing as a way of encouraging the Hezbollah contact, but in fact the man had no intention of changing sides. It is not known if Zygier received anything in return.

Zygier, who left Mossad and moved back to Melbourne in 2008, was eventually arrested by the Israelis in February 2010, when he was charged with numerous security offences and placed in a solitary confinement cell originally designed for the killer of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir.

When he was arrested, Zygier was carrying a compact disc loaded with more intelligence files that he might have planned to pass on to his Hezbollah contact, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Zygier died in prison on 15 December 2010, hanging himself in his cell despite being monitored around the clock by prison staff. His lawyers have said that despite facing at least a decade behind bars the 34 year-old did not appear suicidal.

Bob Carr, Australia’s foreign minister, has confirmed Zygier was working for the Israeli government but stopped short of confirming he worked for Mossad.

Israel has confirmed Zygier’s identity but has refused to comment on any details in the case, including that he was a Mossad agent. In the six weeks since the story was broken by the Australian television network, ABC, various theories about Zygier’s proposed indiscretions have been suggested. None have elicited any response from the Israelis, including the latest investigation by Der Spiegel and Fairfax Media.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
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

IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Head of Maths

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week