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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn