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
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas