Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 12, 2013

News On Prisoner X

This is likely to become an interesting issue:

Prime Minister's Office calls emergency meeting with heads of Israeli media outlets

Purpose of unusual meeting is to request editors' cooperation in preventing publication of affair which could prove embarrassing to government agency.

The Prime Minister's Office called on Tuesday an emergency meeting of the Israeli Editors Committee, an informal forum comprised of the editors and owners of major Israeli media outlets, to ask its members to cooperate with the government and withhold publication of information pertaining to an incident that is very embarrassing to a certain government agency.
The "incident" is revolving around a "Prisoner X" of whom any news has been censored in Israel for nearly three years. Several articles in Israeli media about him were vanished by the censors. But as the Australian ABCnews has now shown (video, 28min) new details on the case this attempt of continued censorship is just silly. Haaretz is helpfully pointing its readers to the original story:
Evidence has been unearthed that strongly suggests Israel's infamous Prisoner X, who was jailed under extraordinary circumstances in 2010, was an Australian national from Melbourne.

Investigations by the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program have revealed Ben Zygier, who used the name Ben Alon in Israel, was found hanged in a high-security cell at a prison near Tel Aviv in late 2010.

His body was flown to Melbourne for burial a week later.

The death goes part of the way to explain the existence in Israel of a so-called Prisoner X, widely speculated in local and international media as an inmate whose presence has been acknowledged by neither the jail system nor the government.

The case is regarded as one of the most sensitive secrets of Israel's intelligence community, with the government going to extraordinary lengths to stifle media coverage and gag attempts by human rights organisations to expose the situation.

The Prisoner X cell is a jail within a jail at Ayalon Prison in the city of Ramla. It was built for the assassin of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The ABC understands Mr Zygier became its occupant in early 2010. His incarceration was so secret that it is claimed not even guards knew his identity.

The Australian security services may think that Mr Zygier was a Mossad agent.

On January 19 2010 Mossad operatives assassinated the Hamas commander Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in a hotel in Dubai. The police in Dubai acted astonishingly fast using videos and stills from various security cameras (part 1, 2, 3) to stitch together the evidence and to identify the Mossad agents involved. The agents involved used passports from various countries including Australian passports though none with the name of Ben Zygier or Ben Alon.

In December 2010 his always wrong "source" told Richard Silverstein that Prisoner X was a Iranian Revolutionary Guard General abducted by Mossad.

If Ben Zygier (photo) was indeed involved with Mossad and ended up as "Prisoner X" he must have done something very extraordinary. Did he blow the whistle about the Dubai assassination? One wonders when we will learn what he did.

Posted by b on February 12, 2013 at 08:55 AM | Permalink

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Silverstein has a new piece on the same subject.

It is really astounding to what level of inhumanity the Israelis are ready to go in secret incarceration. It recalls (post-)medieval stories such as the Man in the Iron Mask.

Posted by: alexno | Feb 12, 2013 9:40:36 AM | 1

Foreign Correspondent, one of the many facets of ABC, The Australian Govts anti-Syria, pro-USrael, broadcaster/disinfo spreader
http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/
covered this story this evening.

In my not-so-humble opinion it's a non-story.
The main sources used by FC to substantiate it were IOF-serving pro-Israel Jews in Oz i.e. Mossad agents, committed to 'defending the homeland from its enemies'.

The only question it raised for me was "What is it that "Israel" is trying to deflect attention from right now?"

There are many possibilities...
My favourites are:
1. 30,000 Palestinians in "Israeli" prisons - the vast majority of whom are in 'administrative detention' ie no formal charges and reasons ranging from blackmail of families related to their (phonetically benign) Piece Process, to stone throwing provoked by the IOF.
2. If "Israel" attacks Syria again it'll wish it hadn't.
3. Iran has told Obama that it won't 'negotiate' anything under duress, threats or sanctions.

So most of "Israel's lame-duck wishful thinking and wet dreams are coming unglued faster than the speed of light and they need a diversion. Oz's Zionist Occupied Govt (and Opposition) is happy to oblige via the supine, incurious and obedient ABC.

But don't take my word for it. The doco should be on FC's website. Watch it and make up your own mind.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 12, 2013 10:38:28 AM | 2

I think Hoarsewhisperer has a point. The Israelis only bring up stories like these when they want to deflect attention away from something else more disgusting that they are doing, or are about to do. Israel holds many people in secret prisons.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 12, 2013 12:03:16 PM | 3

Strictly speaking, this link (in Italian) regarding the Abu Omar kidnapping is off topic: the gist of the story in the link is that


the judges of the Milan Court of Appeals have condemned the former top leadership of the Sismi (Italy's Military Information Agency) Nicolò Pollari and Marco Mancini respectively to 10 and 9 years imprisonment for the kidnapping of Abu Omar. The other defendants, three 007 type agents, Luciano Di Gregorio, Giuseppe Ciorra e Raffaele Di Troia were condemned to a term of 6 years. At the reading of the sentence, Pollari declared that he was "disconcerted" since “a person that everyone in Italy knows to be innocent has been condemned”. ...
The judges also ordered a provisional indemnification for the ex-imam Abu Omar in the amount of one million euros, and half a million euros for his wife (although the liquidation of that indemnity will be decided in a civil proceeding).

Pollari contests the "strange methods" of a very rapid appeals process in which all the requested motions of the defense were denied, and the sentence arrived at in just a few minutes off consultation by the panel of judges despite the presence of a conflict of competence (standing) of the judges. The general states that "the principle of loyal collaboration between the parties to the trial has gone to the dogs, despite the fact the the Monti government had confermed the presence of "State secrets" in this case in an even more explicit manner than earlier governments.
He then went on the attack: "After this sentence I ask "Were the
governments of Prodi, Berlusconi and Monti my accomplices? And if they were, why isn't anyone questioning them?

In Pollari's defense Silvio Berlusconi himself intervenes, saying that he considers it "to be folly that the judges behave in this way
and, that is, by ignoring the "State secrets" aspect. Pollari's lawyer, Nicola Madia, also declared himself to be astounded: "We didn't expect this, we are shocked". In the view of the defense, the sentence was pronounced "notwithstanding the fact that State Secrecy was invoked by three different governments. Secrecy which prevented Pollari from defending himself in this case. Luigi Panella, Mancini's lawyer concurs that his client was convicted in this case in which "documents covered by State Secrecy were used".

This second appeal in the case of the former Sismi leadership
follows the sentence of the Court of Cassation last September, which
besides giving the final guilty verdict for the 23 agents of the CIA
involved in the kidnapping, also annulled the early dismissal of the case against the five Italian defendants on the grounds that the State Secrets privilege was too broad and partially illegitimate.

In recent days the Monti government, like those of Berlusconi and Prodi, had confermed the State Secrets privilege, and on Friday, February 8 Monti himself raised the question of a conflict of competence between the powers of the State to Court of Appeals against the Court of Cassation. However, the judges of the appeals court did not consider themselves obliged to suspend the trial while
waiting for the a decision on this conflict, and after having acquired some documents for which the government had invoked the State Secrets privilege in recent sessions of the court, they condemned all the defendants, thus overturning the verdicts in the two earlier trials in lower courts.
/blockquote>
(Apologies for a very rough translation of the article from Il Fatto Quotidiano.)

This is an interesting (and continuing) story of the attempt to assert the rule of law over the actions of servants of the state engaging in criminal activity in the name of "state security". I don't know how it will finish, but it is certainly pleasant to see that there are still judges who try to do justice. The analogy with the problems surrounding the extra-judicial imprisonment of prisoner X should be clear, and, I guess the moral of the story is that "spooks will be spooks" although only much more rarely are judges actually worthy of the name, as, in this case, they were.

Apologies if this is too long or too peripheral to the present thread, but, as I indicated above, there does seem to be a common background to the two cases.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Feb 12, 2013 12:19:15 PM | 4

And the mysterious part of that story is the silence of the family throughout. I would expect the wife to raise hell when the father of her two kids just disappeared.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 12, 2013 1:06:10 PM | 5

@Horsewhisperer - I believe you are wrong. This is no diversion. It is a shitstorm for Netanyahoo and as he is trying to form a new government coalition a political problem.

See J-Post on the follow ups in the Knesset: MKs blow cover off censored security affair reported abroad

Posted by: b | Feb 12, 2013 1:14:57 PM | 6

@ 2: Thanks for the link, interesting. I'm afraid, just another never to be revealed mystery. I'm sure there are many more stories, just like this one, from the U.S. and other countries.

Posted by: ben | Feb 12, 2013 1:34:35 PM | 7

So many, many dirty games.

"The Shooter," supposedly the U.S. Navy officer who shot "bin Laden," recently gave an interview to a national magazine about how the government has cheated him out of his retirement and health benefits. Yet if he was only in the Navy 16 years, as he claims, he wasn't entitled to retirement benefits -- did the government promise him something special?

If so, what did it promise and why?

In an interview the reporter who wrote the story says he confirmed this was the man who pulled the trigger by talking to the man's "CIA mentor."

Link to Interview

Since when do those in the military have "CIA mentors"? Were those above him in the chain of command aware of this?

Given all the contradictions in the bin Laden assassination story, you get the feeling if "The Shooter" doesn't shut up he's going to wind up like Prisoner X.

Posted by: Ken Nari | Feb 12, 2013 1:42:38 PM | 8

Who would have made the decision to disappear the guy? Netanyahu? Why is it fed to the press now?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 12, 2013 2:12:50 PM | 9

Something doesn't smell right about this whole case. Why the disclosure now? is it really a gambit to derail coalition talks? is there hidden somewhere a "threat" to "out" someone in the shin-bet as the culprit? what caused the Australians - staunchly in the zionist camp - to blow the lid now, two years after the so-called "suicide"? someone in the shin-bet must have done some talking, perhaps with permission.

Most importantly, as b asks, what terrible thing has Ben Alon, an israeli, done that would met this kind of punishment? we know it's nothing for israel to treat palestinians in this manner, but very rare to punish a jewish israeli to such an extent. Yigal, Rabin's killer was treated with kid's gloves comparatively. Vanunu was treated very badly indeed, but not this badly. Neither was ever completely "disappeared". It was suggested by a commenter on Silverstein's blog that perhaps it has to do with spilling some beans on those not-yet told secrets of what role israel played in 9/11. I doubt it would have to do with the Dubai assassination since everyone knows it was Mossad that did the deed there. there is something Ben Alon was involved in that was huge. He may have already "spilled beans" before he was arrested not just threatened to do so.

Posted by: Merlin2 | Feb 12, 2013 5:19:40 PM | 10

yep. And what happened to the Iranian general Iran was still convinced to be prisoner X in December last year.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 12, 2013 5:54:56 PM | 11

Merlin2 - 10

"perhaps it has to do with spilling some beans on those not-yet told secrets of what role israel played in 9/11."

There are so many "activities" Israel engages in which they don't want publicized, the list of possibilities is almost endless.

It's likely they have quite a few people in secret custody, and also likely most taken into secret custody are tortured, then killed once the Israelis feel they extracted all the info they can. It is also likely Israel has some Palestinians in secret custody for use as guinea pigs in medical and weapons experiments, who are also murdered afterwards.

It is also certain that any move to uncover this secret network within Israel will not be successful.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 12, 2013 6:46:22 PM | 12

The funny thing is that this "new" prisoner X story was already rumored in 2010 - by der Spiegel who is a messenger of all kinds of secret service news.
And the family does not talk.
There is an interesting comment on richard silverstein' blog.
I assume some people are signalling something in a very loud way.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 12, 2013 7:29:26 PM | 13

Everyone is reporting that the guy was a suicide, found hanging in his cell, with a straight face. I find it as easy to believe that he was murdered and the obedient Israeli jailors who 'didn't know his name' just stepped aside when told to do so and then 'discovered' his hanging corpse.

The speculation on 9/11 is interesting.

My own speculation there is that the trusting Saudi kamakazes were actually run by Israelis whom they thought were Islamic holy warriors/whatever. The Israelis would have had the people who could carry that off.

Perhaps this guy was seen as reason to liquidate bin Laden and bury him at sea, the perp in perpetuity.

Posted by: john francis lee | Feb 12, 2013 7:44:25 PM | 14

b @ 6. Sorry to sound so intractable.
I'm not saying you're "wrong" btw. But my answer to the question
One wonders when we will learn what he did? would be
"One wonders if anyone could, or should care."

You must surely see how Vanunu-ish this story is. Bibi calls a secret meeting about a Beyond Top Secret story about a Good Jew (we 'know' he was a VERY Good Jew because Israel has killed him), and the media 'leaks' the mythical angle on the story, but tip-toes around the subject of the story.

It wouldn't matter if the subject was Christ Resurrected; it still wouldn't be a story because he's dead (again).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 12, 2013 8:37:41 PM | 15

I think this is blatant bullsh*t.

As a starter it is implicated that the regime can and does not run secret, dirty operations deep below anyones radar (which make the regime look good). Next it implicates that if the regime messed something up, it would convene with its press to "democratically" and friendly ask for cooperative silence (which makes the regime look good) rather than simply gagging them (which would look less nice).

There is a simple solution to the israel problem: Have their right to exist depend on them acknowledging (and acting accordingly) palestinas right to exist. Which as a nice side effect would perfectly cope with the original UN resolution that created their state.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 12, 2013 9:21:06 PM | 16

side note:

Q: I would expect the wife to raise hell when the father of her two kids just disappeared.

R: Rachel Corrie's parents did just that.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 12, 2013 9:39:37 PM | 17

side note:

Q: kamakazes

R: kami-kaze [kami = divine/god/hair/paper + kaze = wind] = divine wind history.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 12, 2013 9:43:26 PM | 18

My apologies to all those who thought I was comparing the Saudi suicide pilots of 9/11 to a typhoon. I was not. I was comparing their attacks to the suicide attacks by Japanese pilots toward the end of WWII who, I learned as a child in the schoolyard playing at war with 'krauts' and 'japs', were termed Kamikaze.

Posted by: john francis lee | Feb 13, 2013 12:38:50 AM | 19

15) it is always fun to speculate.

However, how would you feel about it if you were actually working for the Mossad at this moment? Would you care? Would you assume nothing could happen to you, as your conscience is clear?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 1:26:58 AM | 20

Yeah, I do like that angle, somebody.
But on the other hand, Mossad is such a bunch of risk-averse pussies, wrapped in so many layers of theatrical mythologised codes of conduct, that I'd bet all of them know that old song

"Momma told me not to come.
(That ain't the way to have fun, Son!)"

off by heart.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 13, 2013 1:54:31 AM | 21

the video on #2, i believe is the same as this youtube. at 17:18 in the video it shows the i.d of one of the mossad dubai assasins, name kevin daverson, passport ireland. he resembles the photo blinked to sand the warm smile.

Posted by: annie | Feb 13, 2013 2:29:08 AM | 22

hey, should read 'b linked to sans the warm smile' not 'blinked to sand'. sorry. 'blinked' is fun phrasing for b linked tho. ;)

Posted by: annie | Feb 13, 2013 2:32:45 AM | 23

@#14 & #18 - When the term comes to mind on the subject of suicide bombers, something I cant fathom within my own logic (Suicide to win) as it is very much driven by culture and never put in such a situation, my logic would be fight or flight, but both with the outcome I live. But the Kamikaze always sprung to mind when a suicide bombing event occurs. The Japanese were not only willing to give up their life for a greater cause historically via hari kari (Seppuku) die with honor, or committing seppuku at the death of one's master, known as oibara. (Note: Kamikaze to ensure the job was done were given methamphetamine.

Even though the Japanese used suicide missions, they were never branded as a global terror threat, if fact that culture is often revered in Western society and are today on the side that once defeated it's Nation. In this, the people of Japan, given the culture still I assume would be willing to be a Kamikaze. I was thinking in the terms of a mind-set to suicide bombing what the average Japanese citizen feels on the matter?

I always thought that a suicide bomber is either indoctrinated/groomed, last resort out to make an impact (Desperation or no longer willing to live due to extreme events and the results like family killed), ideology (Political or religious and radical, not limited to one religion as Buddhists do the same), blackmailed or forced by a group (Threat to loved ones), paid i.e. terminal patients would be a ideal option, thus last reward (2 weeks all in etc) or family are rewarded and lastly brainwashed, a little different to ideology or indoc/groomed as the act is not defined and can be a spur of the moment event (Like Cults).

In that, the spat of lone shooters in the US are in a very literal scene a suicide mission, either self or by police, rare they live, if they do it tends to be a political play much like the Batman bloke.

Posted by: Kev | Feb 13, 2013 4:26:25 AM | 24

TeleSur on their flagship news panorama program covered this. Very similar to what your wrote B, i think they read your article and built their story around it.

Posted by: hans | Feb 13, 2013 5:23:58 AM | 25

Obviously the Australian government is implicated as they issued three passports with different names knowing it was the same person.

The admit now they knew about the incarceration.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 5:30:32 AM | 26

@26 Sorry, I must have missed that: when did the Australian govt accept the argument that it issued three different passports in three different names to this man?

AFAIK the Australian govt refers to the desceased as "Ben Allen", presumably because that is the name that is on his Australian passport.

I would be very much surprised if they knowingly issued two other passports in the name of "Ben Zygier" and "Ben Alon".

And, yes indeedie, if they did then that would be A Very Big Deal Indeed in Australian political circles.

The Australia government works hard to ensure that Australian passports are regarded around the world as kosher, which the main reason why the Aussies were so upset when Mossad forged some for that Dubai hit.


Posted by: Johnboy | Feb 13, 2013 6:09:24 AM | 27

Johnboy, the ABC reporter clearly states that they asked the consulate for Ben Zygier and that that name was given to them by their contact, and maybe they also asked for Ben Alon, that was the name they seem to have found Ben Zygier was using in Israel and the embassy answered by letter calling the guy Ben Allen, confirming later that Ben Zygier also had a passport under the name of Ben Allen.

How would they know that? And knowing that would they not have to enquire for criminal activities?

It is possible that Australia routinely gives people with Jewish sounding names Anglo-name passports so they can travel in Middle East countries without raising suspicions. That coming out would be extremely awkward.

The issue that has huge potential of scandal is that the guy was trained as a lawyer. Did he work in Israel as a lawyer, who for?


Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 6:38:55 AM | 28

So now the story is that Australia knew and investigated. However, that cannot change the fact that they deliberately issued a passwort for a name unlinked to the identification papers supplied.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 7:48:36 AM | 29

passport that is - it seems to be easy to change your name in Australia - very routine - so if you report old passports as lost you can legally get any number of passports with different names ... with the knowledge of the Australian government.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 8:01:45 AM | 30

Some new ends from The Age: Australian diplomat 'aware Zygier being held'

Foreign Minister Bob Carr was forced into an embarrassing backflip on Wednesday as he ordered his department to investigate the Zygier case.

His office was forced to correct earlier claims that the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv knew nothing of the case until after Mr Zygier died in prison in December 2010 when his family - a prominent Jewish family in Melbourne - asked for his body to be repatriated.

In a revelation that raises questions about the extent of the Australian government's knowledge, Senator Carr's spokesman said an Australian diplomat - who was not the ambassador - was aware that Mr Zygier, 34, was being held by Israeli authorities.
...
As Fairfax Media reported in 2010, ASIO was investigating at least three dual citizens for their links to Mossad. We reveal now that Mr Zygier was one of them.

Also: DFAT knew of Australian's detention in Israel

That bold was picked up by Haaretz (which is only allowed to report what is in the foreign press, but often adds some details): Australian authorities were investigating Ben Zygier for espionage months before his arrest in Israel

The Australian Age contacted Zygier after the Australian intelligence agency launched an investigation into three Jewish Australian citizens who had emigrated to Israel and may have used their passports for espionage.

This was early 2010 and three of the Dubai assassins had Australian passports.

It seems that my hunch was right?


Posted by: b | Feb 13, 2013 9:22:02 AM | 31

b. that does not mean Zygier was in Dubai, it just means he and the others made a gift of their passports to the Mossad. It does not explain the way he was kept incommunicado or the way the Australian government and the family were silent about it.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 9:55:20 AM | 32

b (31)

"It seems that my hunch was right?"

Yes, sir.

And no doubt there will quite certainly be even more dirt found on that track ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 13, 2013 10:01:06 AM | 33

I guess Mr 'x' is explainable, and not suicidal!

Posted by: Kev | Feb 13, 2013 10:17:33 AM | 34

NYT

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade originally said in a statement early Wednesday that its embassy in Tel Aviv was unaware of Mr. Zygier’s situation until his family requested repatriation of his remains. A few hours later, another statement acknowledged that “some officers of the department were made aware” of his imprisonment beforehand “by another Australian agency.” The inquiry is into “the consular handling of this case,” according to the statement, with a preliminary report expected Thursday.

......

“The fact that this is not made public has a clear security reason behind it and is not something agreed to easily,” Mr. Igra said in a radio interview, noting the cost and effort it would take to keep a prisoner’s identity even from guards, as has been reported in this case. “Israel is a democratic, enlightened state, and there is no activity of the dark forces. What people are accustomed to see in the movies doesn’t exist in the state of Israel.”

Posted by: annie | Feb 13, 2013 10:38:25 AM | 35

re my comment on #22. here is the photo of dubai/mossad agent Kevin Daveron.

The Irish government says the trio of alleged passport-holders identified on Monday in Dubai as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron do not appear in Ireland's records of legitimate passport-holders.

"We are unable to identify any of those three individuals as being genuine Irish citizens. Ireland has issued no passports in those names," the department said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The Irish government says the passport numbers publicised by Dubai authorities also are counterfeits, because they have the wrong number of digits and contain no letters.

again, i think it looks like Zygier.

Posted by: annie | Feb 13, 2013 10:50:46 AM | 36

seems Australia got interested in Zygier before the Dubai assassination

It was well known that Israel approached people who emigrated from other countries to assist it by handing over their passports, an Israeli intelligence expert told Fairfax in 2010.

''Their names are used later but the person providing the passport is not involved,'' the expert said.

It is understood the ASIO investigation into Mr Zygier and the two other men began at least six months before the January 10, 2010, assassination of senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have been carried out by Mossad using Australian and European passports.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 11:13:21 AM | 37

I find this here fairly convincing as Zygier supposedly spent 2009 in Australia at Monash University, there are Iranian and Saudi students there and it would explain why he had to be "sanitized", knowledge of his Mossad connection would have endangered the Iranians (and/or Saudis) he recruited. What was the name he registered with at Monash University? His mother worked there, too, and she resigned about the time of his disappearance.

For this explanation to work, Australian and Israeli secret services would have to consider each other as "hostile" though - that would be really big news.

So maybe he was disappeared because he did have a psychological problem and could not be trusted not to blow up the network of agents he had helped create. If that was the case his treatment was incredibly cruel.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 12:46:52 PM | 38

This piece from Australia is from February 2010(!)


ASIO in fresh Israel spy probe

ASIO is investigating at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens whom it suspects of using Australian cover to spy for Israel.

The investigation was under way at least six months before the assassination in January of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, now widely believed to have been carried out by the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad.

Authorities in Dubai have revealed that three people suspected of involvement in the assassination were travelling on forged Australian passports, using the names of three dual Australian-Israeli citizens.
Advertisement

The three people linked to Mabhouh's death are in no way connected to the three being investigated by ASIO.
...
According to two Australian intelligence sources who have been in contact with The Age, the three dual citizens under ASIO surveillance all emigrated to Israel within the past decade.

Each of the men has since travelled back to Australia at different times to legally change their names and obtain new Australian passports.

One of the men under surveillance has changed his surname three times, while the other two men have changed their surnames twice. In each case, the men have changed their names from surnames that could be read as European-Jewish sounding names, to names more typically identified as Anglo-Australian.

Australian citizens are generally allowed to change their name once every 12 months, as long as it is not for criminal reasons.

The new Australian passports have since been used to gain entry to a number of countries that are hostile to Israel, including Iran, Syria and Lebanon. All three countries do not recognise Israel and specifically forbid Israeli citizens from entering.

The Age understands that the three Australian citizens share an involvement with a European communications company that has a subsidiary located in the Middle East.

The Age has contacted two of the men, both of whom denied they were involved in any kind of espionage activity. They did confirm that they had changed their surnames, but said the proposition that they had done so in order to obtain new travel documents to travel throughout the Middle East was, in the words of one of them, ''totally absurd''.

Both said they had changed their names for personal reasons. One of the men is also believed to hold British citizenship, and after he had changed his name.

ASIO had no comment.

An Israeli intelligence expert told The Age yesterday it was no secret that Israel approached people who had emigrated from other countries to help Israel by handing over their passports. ''The names are used later, but the person providing the passport is not involved.''

Posted by: b | Feb 13, 2013 12:53:22 PM | 39

this is the Guardian

The source named three Australians with joint Israeli citizenship whom, he said, were working for a front company set up by Mossad in Europe selling electronic equipment to Iran and elsewhere.

"I was tipped off in October 2009," Katsoukis told the Guardian on Wednesday, recalling the events that would lead to his calling Zygier at his home in Jerusalem and accusing him of being an Israeli spy.

"The story was that Mossad was recruiting Australians to spy for them using a front company in Europe. It all seemed too good to be true.

"But what I was told seemed to check out. The company did exist. I also managed to establish that Zygier and another of the individuals had worked for it. I wasn't able to confirm the third name.

"I was told too that the Australian authorities were closing in on Zygier and that he might even be arrested.

Stuxnet? Was Zygier disappeared to protect the front company?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 2:20:08 PM | 40

annie #36 - I think you are right. "Kevin" has some facial hair, and the ID is not high quality but the similarity to Zygier is striking.

I would not at all be surprised if Mossad does "mix and match" between passports pictures, names and nationalities when constructing their false IDs - it would help make obscure the trail. So an Australian "ID" picture pops up on an Irish passport, why not? like the Dubai hotel desk employees would know the difference between an irish and an Australian accent?

Posted by: Merlin2 | Feb 13, 2013 2:22:19 PM | 41

working for a front company set up by Mossad in Europe selling electronic equipment to Iran and elsewhere.

Stuxnet and

Flame?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 2:26:45 PM | 42

I think this Prisoner-X was compromised by Iran and became a double agent. His identity was known in Australia. Iran has been busting agents who try to recruit Students in foreign universities for years.

Posted by: hans | Feb 13, 2013 2:39:47 PM | 43

annie (36) and Merlin2 (41)

Not meaning to say that you are wrong, I would however entertain the assumption that israelis creating fake id documents would know about and use photoshop ...

So I personally wouldn't follow that similarity track to far.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 13, 2013 2:40:05 PM | 44

Not to belabor the point of similarity, check out this article which has another picture of Zieger, this time not smiling. The kevin ID picture could easily be a somewhat older version of the same individual. If you remove the goatee and the mustache with photoshop, you'll see what I mean.

the main significance of this, were they in fact the same person, is to establish that Ben Zieger/Alon/Allen was one of the Dubai operatives. Not sure what that means. When was he supposed to have been arrested? January 2010, was it?

Posted by: Merlin2 | Feb 13, 2013 3:12:04 PM | 45

Merlin2 (45)

Let me pick that up ...

Concerning the Dubai mossad operatives I would strongly suppose that they are either savely stored away at some sensible but internal desk - or dead.

Deceiving is not just a formal motto of mossad. It's also exactly what is to be expected from an incredibly criminal nation that (publicly, at least) perceives itself as "small david" and almost necessarily thinks in term of asymetric warfare (except, of course against civilians where it also acts asymetrically but from the other, the "goliath" side).
Last but not least israelis perceive deception and thinking insiduously, deviously and weaselly as a symbol of intelligence.

So, if there was a similarity then, that's my understanding, that is part of some dirty plan from the beginning.

I mean ... israel can remote control the american congress but they can not control their own press, at least not effectively? Hardly.

This whole thing smells like a controlled "leak". And, as we see, it keeps people busy ...

Yesterday I happened to fall over an interesting article in the New Yorker about a trick pickpocket (who actually didn't steal but rather perform). I couldn't help but to see connections. In particular with one basic message of him along the lines that it's not about the body (speed, etc.) but about psychology. One recurring theme was how well humans and in particular their attention can be psychologically controlled up to the point where they just don't notice something evident because their attention is guided and fixed somewhere else.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 13, 2013 3:40:15 PM | 46

hmm...

Meanwhile, members of Australia’s Jewish community shared the details they knew about Zygier’s earlier life. One Hashomer friend who was on Kibbutz Gazit with Zygier in 1994 said that Zygier “never struck me as someone who was stable.”

“I could never imagine someone like that being good for Mossad,” said the acquaintance, who like most acquaintances interviewed about Zygier did not want to be identified. “Also, Ben talked too much.”

Another acquaintance said, “I remember hanging out in Israel with him in 1996. He was a nice guy, a bit lost.

A Monash MBA takes two years and if you are fast 1,5 years. Zygier is supposed to have started his studies in 2009 beginning to socialize with Saudi and Iranian students. Australian media gets a tip he might be involved in spying with a Mossad front company at the beginning of 2010. Who gave that tip? Why? And who would know? Soon after that Zygier gets disappeared.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 3:57:56 PM | 47

and according to the Guardian Fairfax reporter Katsoukis gets that tip in October 2009 in Jerusalem of all places.

The source named three Australians with joint Israeli citizenship whom, he said, were working for a front company set up by Mossad in Europe selling electronic equipment to Iran and elsewhere.

"I was tipped off in October 2009," Katsoukis told the Guardian on Wednesday, recalling the events that would lead to his calling Zygier at his home in Jerusalem and accusing him of being an Israeli spy.

"The story was that Mossad was recruiting Australians to spy for them using a front company in Europe. It all seemed too good to be true.

"But what I was told seemed to check out. The company did exist. I also managed to establish that Zygier and another of the individuals had worked for it. I wasn't able to confirm the third name.

"I was told too that the Australian authorities were closing in on Zygier and that he might even be arrested.

The last sentence sounds very strange. Surely it is not against the law of Australia for a dual citizen to spy in Europe or the Middle East? Surely Australia would not care? And did Zygier really study for an MBA in Australia in 2009 living in Jerusalem in October presumably with his wife and two kids?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 4:16:58 PM | 48

Nice work, b, fleshing out the Israeli passport scheme. It's obvious the 3 "Australians" are either Mossad in deep cover, sayanim working for Mossad or a combination of the two. Israel has literally 1000's of these networks worldwide. It was estimated in the late 80's that London alone housed 2-3000 sayanim working for Mossad in various capacities. Helping Mossad acquire info and material for passport forgeries is one of the more important jobs sayanim provide.

As for the Kevin Daveron-Ben Zygier speculations, I think they are different people. The eyes, ears and crown of the two look too different.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 13, 2013 4:58:57 PM | 49

But we are still in the dark why Israel secretly nabbed Zygier and more or less killed him. My guess is he probably had been turned by the intelligence services of another country, or Mossad though he had been. Israel treat "betrayal" (to them) like the mafia treats the betrayal of a "snitch", especially when it's one of their intelligence assets.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 13, 2013 5:04:23 PM | 50

My best intelligent guess is close to somebody's. This guy, among other stuff, worked on (lead ?) a team which was runing the stuxnet mission, and later on was "relieved of duty" by his recruiters. The reason why he was "let go" is not important, since doubling or crossing is a common hapennance in the world of spooks. As Mr Pragma is saying the most important is why the Israeli are leaking it now.

This article can give a clue about this ziegler's mission in an "electronic company"

http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/07/industial-bugs-exploited-by-stuxnet-fixed/

Posted by: ATH | Feb 13, 2013 5:11:15 PM | 51

51, actually there are three times this was leaked to the press - in October 2009 to an Australian journalist in Jerusalem, in June 2010 by prison guards to an Israeli paper and in Febuary 2013 by an Israeli "trusted source" to ABC.

The October 2009 leak and the leak now are the strange ones as the motivation is unclear.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 13, 2013 5:25:13 PM | 52

And if 'you' think only the Ozzies have a problem, look next door and see what happened in Kiwiland Mossad spy ring 'unearthed because of Christchurch earthquake.' Canadian passport, anyone?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 13, 2013 6:20:48 PM | 54

Don't really know where to put this. US Congress Seeks to Thwart Palestinian Reconciliation. A big thank you to Annie Robbins.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 13, 2013 8:09:10 PM | 55

ATH (51)

Maybe the really interesting point isn't "Why is he dead?" but rather "Why are the israelis serving this right now" and "What (else and non related) do they want to cover?"

As for "Why him?" the reason might be a simple "because he was a) unreliable and b) by far less worth to them than his dead and what it could be used for".

Rule of thumb: Never exclude the most strikingly simple option when dealing with party that is - and wants to be perceived as - smart and deceitful.


As for Stuxnet I have my doubts. For a simple reason:

For such an attack you need 2 resources, none of which (to my knowledge) that guy was:
- A very professional system (I think it was a Siemens S7) and a very professional software developer group.
- Some idiot at the target location who can be forced/bought/tricked to insert the "viral" usb stick.

No mossad types needed.

Something else raised my eyebrows. So you can get a new name every year in Australia? Hmmmm. Australia ... commonwealth ... uk ...

If as secret service you build a trap or deflection you better have a plan b or a 2nd level deflection.

Level 1: Dead guy. Special prison (built for the rabin killer. This is a hint: When bad guys think they are *really* smart and superior they can hardly resist to leave a clue that they fu**ed you. A rather common element found in israeli operations. Here rabin is the smirkng clue I guess). Weird story with changes of citizenships and places of residence.

Level 2: A new name every year in Australia.

I'm pretty sure that this hole "trace" leads along a dead (albeit luring) path to everything and nowhere.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 13, 2013 8:56:45 PM | 56

The non-story of Prisoner X is having one very inconvenient impact on public perceptions of Israel. The debates in the Knesset add considerable weight to one of two streams of evidence that Israel is a military dictatorship.

The Knesset 'debates' about Prisoner X are about Knesset Members whining impotently about being ignored by the troglodytes in charge of the IOF and the intel agencies.

The other stream of evidence arises from the fact that the IOF and intel orgs can, by and large, ignore court rulings with impunity. So, when the Military isn't accountable to either the Parliament or the civilian courts that is, by definition, a military dictatorship.

In Oz, like other Western mock-democracies. we have a parliamentary dictatorship whereby it's the parliamentarians who ignore our wishes, rather than the ADF. But since the ADF is accountable to the parliament, it is splitting hairs to draw a distinction between unaccountable parliamentary dictatorships and unaccountable military dictatorships.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 13, 2013 10:22:06 PM | 57

Suspected Israeli agents kill IRGC cmdr. in southern Lebanon

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/14/288857/irgc-commander-assassinated-in-lebanon/

"A senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has been assassinated by suspected Israeli agents in Lebanon.

General Hassan Shateri was reportedly killed on Tuesday by unknown gunmen as he was traveling by road from Syria to Lebanon.

Israeli elements have been blamed for the assassination of the IRGC general, who led the Iranian-financed reconstruction projects in the south of Lebanon.

His funeral ceremony will be held in Tehran on Thursday. He will then be laid to rest in his birthplace, Semnan, on Friday.

In 2006, Israel launched a war of aggression against Lebanon that lasted 33 days and devastated most of the infrastructure and buildings in southern Lebanon.

Since then, Iran has played a leading role in reconstruction efforts there."

Posted by: вот так | Feb 14, 2013 12:21:27 AM | 58

57)you forget that Siemens had stopped to sell hardware to Busheer but Iran got the parts anyway and you forget that Iran accused Siemens of delivering intentionally infected stuff. You also forget the huge Middle East spying potential of flame. Flame actually is a very interesting virus and it can self destruct on order leaving no trace.

It is clear that the guy had been boasting too much, from his time in the Israeli military onwards and after the October 2009 phone call by a journalist, he had to be retired, if he had not been retired before. Presumably he was not the only Israeli agent at Monash university and someone reported him.

And it is clear that the Mossad used him despite his personality problem because of his Australian passport and his blue eyes. So public knowledge about his fate would endanger all the business contacts he had serviced in the Middle East.

His story basically means that Australians trying to do business in the Middle East will find it very hard.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 2:04:05 AM | 59

57) In Oz you can hold people accountable -
Israeli ambassador mobbed by journalists asking questions about Zygier the ambassador is not prepared to answer :-))

And finally someone asks the core question how come he could commit suicide watched 24/7.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 2:21:16 AM | 60

36) actually it is possible that the stories about him talking too much, being unstable or being recruited by the Australian/Iranian secret services/being a traitor are now spread deliberately to silence the family and cover up that Mossad burnt him by their own stupidity of using a well known "Australian businessman" in Dubai.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 2:46:00 AM | 61

Times of Israel

Exposure of alleged agent could have ‘dramatic implications’ for MossadChannel 10: Iran and Syria will now be checking through their records, working out when Ben Zygier entered, who accompanied him, and who he met with ...


During his years in Israel, Zygier, a lawyer by profession, also worked at the Herzog, Fox, Neeman law firm of Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Channel 2 reported.

In 2009, he went back to Australia and enrolled for a master’s degree at Melbourne’s Monash University, where he mingled with students from Arab countries, including from Saudi Arabia and Iran.

This attracted the suspicions of the Australian national security services, who called him in for questioning, the reports said, suspecting that he had used his Australian passport to spy for Israel. One Israeli media report on Wednesday night claimed Zygier admitted to the Australian interrogators that he was working for the Mossad, and then also told an Australian journalist. Another report said it was the Australian security services that “burned him” by leaking the story to a local Australian journalist. When this journalist called Zygier, he responded with an angry denial, insisting he had never been involved in espionage.

Three other suspected Mossad agents active at the Australian university campus were also questioned by the authorities, it was reported on Wednesday night. No further details were available.

A justice manager who owns a law firm is quite something ...

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 4:05:35 AM | 62

and so this case was not so secret after all ....

so why published - to warn everybody off - like Bradley Manning?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 5:13:58 AM | 63

seems like a lot of people were talking about it - the mystery of jail suicides: Haaretz from Dezember 2010

Particularly sensitive cases involve prisoners who are incarcerated for classified reasons, such as those involving security matters, and whose deaths are not made public.

In such a case, the investigation aims to determine whether any government or other agency with access to the most restricted prison units had an interest in silencing the prisoner, and if so, whether the prisoner's death might be murder disguised as suicide. Such deaths also raise the question of whether the prison service is capable of preventing the violent death of well-known prisoners like the assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 5:46:59 AM | 64

Alisdair Sinclair allegedly hung himself in an israeli jail.

Posted by: annie | Feb 14, 2013 6:47:52 AM | 65

annie, this opens a whole can of worms

Rabin's last doctor - the name is Jehuda Hiss

Deputy Health Minister fires Abu Kabir chief pathologist Yehuda Hiss - from October 2012

Forensic exam of Zygier carried out by Abu Kabir in 2010

It was also not clear why he had committed suicide, although the speculation on Wednesday night was that it might have been a consequence of his exposure. There were unanswered questions, too, about how he had been able to take his own life on December 15, 2010 — reportedly via “asphyxiation by hanging,” according to a post-mortem carried out by the Abu Kabir center for forensic medicine outside Tel Aviv — in a cell with constant camera surveillance and other supervision.

doubts on prisoner X suicide - from Australia

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 7:21:44 AM | 66

Zygier 'planned to expose deadly use of passports'

SECURITY officials suspect that Ben Zygier, the alleged spy who died in a secret Israeli prison in 2010, may have been about to disclose information about Israeli intelligence operations, including the use of fraudulent Australian passports, either to the Australian government or to the media before he was arrested.

Mr Zygier ''may well have been about to blow the whistle, but he never got the chance,'' an Australian security official told Fairfax Media.

Sources in Canberra are insistent that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was not informed by its Israeli counterparts of the precise nature of the espionage allegations against Mr Zygier. However, it is understood that the Melbourne law graduate had been in contact with Australian intelligence officers.
...
Mr Zygier's detention came at an increasingly tense time in Australian-Israeli relations.

On February 16, 2010, Dubai authorities revealed that suspected Israeli agents had used Western passports in a covert operation that resulted in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in the United Arab Emirates.

News of the Israeli passport fraud caused a strong reaction from the then prime minister Kevin Rudd. On February 25, according to a US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, DFAT told the US embassy in Canberra that ''Australian officials are 'furious' all the way up the chain of command over the incident, and Prime Minister Rudd has vowed to get to the bottom of it''.
...
On May 24, 2010, Mr Smith told Parliament that the government was ''in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of [Australian] passports'' in connection with the assassination of Mabhouh and announced that a senior unnamed Israeli diplomat was being expelled in response to Israeli's actions and refusal to co-operate with Australian investigations.

The diplomat, given one week to leave Australia, was embassy counsellor Eli Elkoubi, an officer of the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad.


Was Kevin Rudd fired because of his insistence in this case?

Posted by: b | Feb 14, 2013 8:07:24 AM | 67

67) b. Ken Rudd is surely an internal Labour issue, nothing else. Australia's business community will be pissed about the passport thing as it will make it much more difficult for them to travel, hardly anybody else. And hardly anybody apart from the Australian Jewish community will care deeply. Australia and Israel cooperate - Australia obviously has known about the way their passports would be used, and it was hardly a secret that Israeli immigrants were asked for a gift of their passport.

The uproar, the leaks seem to be very much driven by Zionists shocked to see how one of their own was treated. The "may well have been" is just a way to keep the issue in the press.

As it stands now
1) Zygier had not admitted to anything and was considering a plea bargain
2) was represented by well known lawyers
2) died asphyxated one day after a human rights lawyer sent by his parents had visited him
3) the postmortem was done by a forensic institute with a rather dubious track record
4) no discussion of the case was allowed, though quite a few people seem to have known

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 9:07:30 AM | 68

" Ken Rudd is surely an internal Labour issue, nothing else..."

This seems to contradict the evidence that the US Embassy was deeply involved in the coup that dethroned the PM.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 14, 2013 12:28:18 PM | 69

69) they seem to have had performance issues with him but nothing fundamental

I somehow do not see the US buying 71 Australian Labour party votes in 2012.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 12:57:53 PM | 70

From the smh article posted by b in 67:

"SECURITY officials suspect that Ben Zygier, the alleged spy who died in a secret Israeli prison in 2010, may have been about to disclose information about Israeli intelligence operations, including the use of fraudulent Australian passports, either to the Australian government or to the media before he was arrested."

If Mossad knew he was going to snitch, then Mossad would have used ANY method they could to silence him beforehand. The kidnapping of Vanunu is an example. If Vanunu was an unknown, he would have been disappeared after the kidnapping. Mossad agents who snitch, or are turned, are simply eliminated ASAP.

If Rudd was getting obstinate, the Israelis would see to it he was removed from power. Even if he was a loyal quisling up to that point, zionists tolerate no resistance to their power. Once a puppet shows less that full loyalty, zionists peg them as unreliable and remove them. They do not tolerate anything less than absolute total loyalty.

We are still in the dark why Zygier's death is now being brought up. Perhaps looking at who got the publicity going might help with that?

Posted by: вот так | Feb 14, 2013 2:20:27 PM | 71

abc - australian broadcasting corporation is state owned. They took an immense effort in making their film visually effective, hiring an actor to play prisoner x, rebuilding the cell etc.

So it seems the Australian state, Australian security is involved. Without abc this discussion would not have happened.

However all the leaks happened in Israel. The Australian reporter Jason Koutsoukis was in Jerusalem when he got the tip about Zygier working for a Mossad front company using his passport for spying. ynet tried to report on prisoner x having got a tip from a guard and abc say they got their tip from a "trusted source" in Israel.

To me it sounds like Israelis turned to Australians because they could not get it out in their own country. Jason Koutsoukis actually might have been used by someone who wanted to find out how Zygier would react. Zygier was arrested shortly after the last contact.

It is simply a very good story with all the ingredients of a spy novel. Of course abc would do the story.

If Australia was really worried about the misuse of passports all they had to do is abolish the simple name change law/ abolish dual citizenship.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 2:55:15 PM | 72

This here is an abc interview with Jason Koutsoukis. He says he got the tip about the Mossad front company and the use of Australian passports in October 2009 from an Australian intelligence source, however the Israeli Mossad might have listened in when he talked to Zygier about it.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 14, 2013 3:04:37 PM | 73

Was Kevin Rudd fired because of his insistence in this case?

He was fired because of the planned resources tax.

Posted by: DM | Feb 14, 2013 4:32:57 PM | 74

That passport thing - in 2004 Mossad agents were arrested in New Zealand procuring passports from sick people who would never travel
The author thinks Zygier was burnt between the Australian and Israeli secret services - which is likely and would make the whole affair one of stupidity and incompetence.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 15, 2013 2:05:59 AM | 75

Published 8 hours ago by Haaretz

Source: Israel offered Zygier's family millions in compensation

The source said the compensation agreement was signed about six weeks ago at the end of an inquiry into the cause of the prisoner’s death. Israel recently signed an agreement to pay several million shekels in compensation to the family of Ben Zygier − “Prisoner...

The original Haaretz article has been deleted.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 15, 2013 2:38:51 AM | 76

Haaretz article from Google cache

Israel recently signed an agreement to pay several million shekels in compensation to the family of Ben Zygier − “Prisoner X” who committed suicide in Ayalon Prison in December 2010 − a source familiar with the affair said Thursday. It also emerged on Thursday that Zygier was negotiating a plea bargain before he died in jail.

The source said the compensation agreement was signed about six weeks ago at the end of an inquiry into the cause of the prisoner’s death.

After Zygier was found dead in his isolated, maximum- security cell in the prison, Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court President Daphna Blatman Kedrai held an inquiry into the circumstances of his death. The inquiry, held behind closed doors, continued for more than a year and a half.

At the end of the inquiry the judge ruled Zygier killed himself, but did not refer to the possibility of negligence on the prison wardens’ part, and passed the matter to the State Prosecutor’s Office.

Attorneys Roy Blecher, Moshe Mazor and Boaz Benzur, who represented Zygier and his family from the moment he was arrested in February 2010, filed for compensation during the inquiry. The negotiations continued for more than a year and ended after it was concluded Zygier had committed suicide.

Two days before his death, Zygier met attorney Avigdor Feldman in prison, Feldman said on Thursday. Feldman wasn’t part of Zygier’s defense team, but said he was hired by Zygier’s family to advise him about a plea bargain the State Prosecutor had formulated.

Feldman told Army Radio that Ben Zygier appeared “rational, focused and to the point” when he met him, two days before his death.

Zygier was inclined to reject the plea deal and go to trial to prove his innocence, Feldman said.

He said Zygier was under heavy pressure and threats from his interrogators.

“He was told he was likely to be sentenced to an extremely long prison term and would be shunned by his family and the Jewish community. That affects a person’s soul,” he said.

However, Feldman said he did not sense Zygier was in a suicidal mood. “He sounded rational and focused and spoke to the point. He did not display any special feeling of self-pity,” he said.

Zygier appeared anxious about the trial, Feldman said. “Don’t get the impression this was a relaxed cafe conversation,” he said. “Clearly he was under pressure; clearly he was very concerned about the trial.”

Two days after the meeting a security services liaison called to tell him of his client’s suicide, he said.

Feldman told Army Radio he was aware Zygier was being held under a false name. “I saw this as something inappropriate but I did not take legal measures, assuming he was in the good hands of his lawyers,” he said.

Feldman criticized the security services’ failure to protect his client. “Those responsible for him should have taken better steps to watch over him, especially because he was far from the public eye. The end of the affair is something that needs to be investigated,” he said.

According to Australian media reports, Zygier was apparently not a spy or a traitor, but a young man who lacked discretion, was boastful and talked too much. It also appears from those reports that Zygier did not give information to an enemy state, nor did he intentionally breach state security.

This seems to be corroborated by the plea bargain the state offered him, instead of insisting he go to trial where he could get a harsher verdict.

However, due to Zygier’s problematic conduct, both journalists and one friendly state intelligence agency − the Australian Security Service − discovered his real name and the nature of his activity.

The result, according to the Australian media, was the exposure of part of the Mossad’s secret activity against Iran.

Haaretz has learned that Zygier told at least two of his friends in Australia that he had been recruited by the Mossad.

An Israeli official familiar with the affair said Zygier had boasted on several occasions to friends and strangers about working for the Mossad. One of those occasions was when Zygier visited Australia in 2009. “He talked too much,” the source said.

The things Zygier said were apparently picked up not only by Australian journalists but by the Australian Security Service.

Reports in the Australian media Thursday increased the suspicion that Zygier had collaborated with the Australian security service, possibly as a result of extortion.

The Australian media group Fairfax Media on Thursday cited Australian security officials as saying Zygier was in touch with the Australian security service before his arrest at the end of February 2010.

They said Zygier was about to give information to Australian intelligence or to journalists about the Mossad’s activities in the country, including the use it made with Australian passports.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 15, 2013 2:49:20 AM | 77

actually, seems to me that Zygier did not necessarily talk too much, but the Mossad overused his convenient Australian identity and also presumably his blue eyes, so that they basically burnt him themselves.

Of course Australians knew all his identities - they had issued the passports and done the name changes. How to send him back to a Australian university campus without an understanding with the Australians is - amateurish.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 15, 2013 2:59:27 AM | 78

more Haaretz

Ben Zygier died in Ayalon Prison on December 15, 2010. Six days after his 34th birthday, four days after his second daughter's birth. And most important, a day after his meeting with attorney Avigdor Feldman.

Zygier and his wife wanted to consult Feldman about a most fateful decision – whether to go on trial in an Israeli court or agree to a plea bargain.

The offense Zygier was charged with could be said to have problematic implications, not intentions. He was not a traitor who sold state secrets to Israel's worst enemies for money or ideology. He had committed an offense of negligence, inadvertently, with no malice aforethought. The act could have led to a certain breach of security. According to the information I've gathered, it was not a fateful offense and the authorities' reaction was disproportionate. The fact that Zygier was offered a plea deal corroborates this assumption. People who commit severe treason and espionage are not offered plea bargains.

But the "treason" clause in the Israeli law book is so broad that almost any breach of Israel's security can be included in it.

Zygier was offered a plea bargain involving prolonged imprisonment. His wife and the state-appointed defense attorneys advised him to take the deal and avoid a trial. But he hesitated. At the meeting with Feldman he wanted to examine his options and was inclined to insist on going to trial.

He was worried and upset, but vital and practical. He did not display signs of depression or psychosis.

Feldman told Zygier he could not advise him professionally without looking over the evidence. Immediately after the meeting Feldman went about obtaining the evidence, but the next day he was told there was no point. The defendant had died.

employee mobbing the Mossad way?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 15, 2013 4:31:42 AM | 79

Q: One wonders when we will learn what he did.

R: The same day we find out how John & Chris died [never].

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 15, 2013 5:07:07 AM | 80

As it stands the Australian secret service blew his cover and the Mossad had to disappear him so their agent networks would not get uncovered ...
They did it all with court orders and legality - the whole process was just shielded from public knowledge. But he had lawyers and his wife and his parents knew.
They counted on him agreeing to a plea bargain so he would be savely locked up out of view for the time they needed. He "suicided" the very moment an outside (non Israeli security issues) lawyer was sent by his wife to discuss the plea bargain with him and who asked to see the material against his client which presumably they could not have denied.
It seems that his family has been paid compensation.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 15, 2013 5:49:13 AM | 81

He was fired because of the planned resources tax.

The resource tax was a pretext.
He was rolled because he was insufficiently pro-US/Israel.
His wife is a successful business woman and quite wealthy. He probably thought the relatively minor inducements so eagerly snapped up by the average Oz politician weren't worth selling out for.

He has recently begun correcting his 'misguided' attitude, in public. Not sure where it will end up - but Gillard looks and sounds like just another US drone and has to be dumped.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 15, 2013 8:18:24 AM | 82

Rubbish

Posted by: DM | Feb 15, 2013 8:36:34 AM | 83

The Empire hates any sign of independent thinking. And for good reason, it depends entirely on public complacency.
Rudd just had a few maverick traits, he pretended to be able to think for himself. When the opportunity arose, in the faction ridden and bossed Labour Party, those anxious to take his job and cash in were given a bit of assistance.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 15, 2013 8:54:06 AM | 84

Maybe just a coincidence

But it strikes me that in quite many texts hier, particularly from certain somebodies, there is this angle looked at, that detail looked at and yet another bit hinted at - with one thing in common: The name "Ben Zygier".

The rest is rather diverse and sometimes funny but the name sticks.

Even the guards don't know anything about that prisoner except that he is the super special prisoner within an already special prison.

But then some diplomats at the other end of the world along with some journalists and possibly the bartender and the barber seem to know a lot.
And he has a defense team, a team, not just one single lawyer and yet another lawyer is sent by his family to the most secret, "vanished" prisoner X in the special prison like you could look up that prison and prisoner X on some internet pages for secret special prisoners of mossad. Friendly and (almost german) correct as they are, those mossad guys even inform everyone who doesn't run away fast enough about "Zygiers" death.

Now, if I were a mossad officer having someone that can't be easily killed because he's a foreign nations minister or some other important figure, this whole thing would look rather practical to me.

Or, just thinking somewhat wild (though considerably less wild than the "Zygier" story) ... suppose I arranged something really, really ugly and had to find out that our friends, the usa, who pay our state and our weapons and send their boys to fight our wars, were dead serious when they said something about "diplomatic solution" concerning a country we israeli and mossad guys hate, hate, megahate ... and had killed someone not at all blue eyed but very vital in the context of a peaceful solution with Iran ...
Well, wouldn't I find it extremely handy and smart to "leak" some controlled bullsh*t with lots about blue eyes in it and some not soooo important country far, far away (rather than a rather near country)? Wouldn't I find it handy and smart if I had cohorts of cheap and obedient mouths around the world to shout hundred angles and details about blue eyes and "Zygier" and lots of goyim to believe that barrage of bullsh*t?

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 15, 2013 9:32:16 AM | 85

well, if it is more than a turf war between two friendly agencies then Australia has destroyed a large part of Israel's Iranian business network:

Sydney Morning Herald of 2010

According to two Australian intelligence sources who have been in contact with the Herald, the three men under surveillance all emigrated to Israel within the last decade.

Each has travelled back to Australia at different times to legally change their names and obtain new Australian passports. One of the men has changed his surname three times, the other two have changed theirs twice.

The men have changed their names from surnames that could be read as European-Jewish to ones more typically identified as Anglo-Australian.

Australian citizens are generally allowed to change their name once every 12 months, as long as it is not for criminal reasons.

The new passports have been used to gain entry to a number of countries that are hostile to Israel including Iran, Syria and Lebanon. All three do not recognise Israel and forbid Israelis from entering. Israel also forbids its citizens from travelling to those countries for security reasons.

The Herald understands that the three Australians share an involvement with a European communications company that has a subsidiary in the Middle East. A person travelling under one of these names sought Australian consular assistance in Tehran in 2004.

Australia's relationship with Iran actually is quite interesting,

Posted by: somebody | Feb 15, 2013 11:50:09 AM | 86

The idea that Zygier was killed because he got exposed or because his passport was used too much is absurd. The Israelis give the sort of special treatment that Zygier got to agents that have betrayed them in some way, not because Mossad screwed up or the agent got exposed. When the latter two happens, Kidon simply takes them out, if the agent could serious damage something they got going. Kidnapping, torture, interrogation and secret incarceration is for those who they think betrayed Israel, and they want to find out all he has done, before killing him. Somebody is posting a lot of obfuscation and misdirection rubbish.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 15, 2013 1:41:12 PM | 87

Yeah.

Maybe, I for one wouldn't be too surprised, in another week or two we will get told the "truth" ... something like

"As a democratic country that values international law we, israel, would never ever kill Iranian scientists. One blue-eyed Australian, however, with whom we were loosely affiliated, unfortunately turned berserk and went on a scientist murder spree in Iran. As soon as we found out, we brought him to court (albeit discretely) and locked that bad person away. When he decided to abuse our human and friendly prison system by suiciding we felt somewhat not so well and therefore tried to avoid noise, which unfortunately failed because some of our wunderfully free and democratic press organs published it anyway."

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 15, 2013 2:07:30 PM | 88

Q: Classical astronomical methods of trajectory measurement are simply not applicable to heavenly bodies smaller than 100 meters across.

R: So, according to this logic, states should store their nuclear missiles in launch bays in space... link. It reminds me of Columbia's break up. Funny how I was attacked back then [by BBC morons] when I informed them of Japanese engineers' findings that ice had hit Columbia's protective shield/s during take off. Anyway, it shows us [again] that we should be very aware of our own mortality and thus [always] try to prevent the untimely demise of others, regardless of their race, creed, gender or religion.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 15, 2013 7:44:57 PM | 89

Completely off topic.

Q: some of our wunderfully free

R: Mr. Pragma, is that 'wunderfully' tongue in cheek or are you actually German? No need to answer if you're not comfortable answering very personal questions [I'm just as curious as a cat, that's all].

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 15, 2013 7:50:18 PM | 90

Daniel Rich (89)

Yeah, right, that article in ruvr.ru was bullsh*t (although generally ruvr.ru seems to be OK).

Actually modern AD systems can deal with objects of < 30 cm diameter. Of course, a comet typically is a lot faster than a missile but on the other hand it has a simpler and rather straight trajectory. I can only assume that that guy in the article meant that a broken comet or, more precisely, the hundreds of fragments can not easily be traced. This is really a problem; I do not know of a system that could handle that.

It should also be noted that while these fragments are typically quite small they can be devastating due to their very high kinetic energy.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 15, 2013 7:57:00 PM | 91

Daniel Rich

Misunderstanding. Probably again my by far less than pefct english .. I apologize.

Actually I had put those words in the mouth of some israeli figure. It was meant as a funny way to (nevertheless strongly) hint what thos whole "Zygier" fuzz is quite probably really about.

It would just perfectly fit them. As far as I'm concerned, I'm assuming that Zygier and his death (as well as all those "leaked" details) is simply a pragmatic useful move for israel.

To put it in other words: While I don't know what's the truth I'm pretty certain that this thing isn't about israel needing blue-eyed guys with frequent new passports, one of which for whatever reason landed in that special prison and killed himself.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Feb 15, 2013 8:04:37 PM | 92

@ Mr. Pragma [#91],

Again, off topic: I guess the trouble with the 'Dreamliner' is another exuberant example of how not to rush to an open-ended, end result. Having read countless pages of 'superior' air defense systems [dating back eons ago in some cases] it still makes me wonder how all those planes could fly uninterrupted on 9/11. Furthermore, who had the foresight to know all about 'clear skies' in various parts of the country. I guess the demise of Cristhoper Dorner tells 'us' a lot about 'our' government's insight and workings. Luckily 'we' now can be 'hell-fired' into submission [or else].

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 15, 2013 8:14:18 PM | 93

I apologize, b, more totally off topic news:

Tony Hall appoints James Purnell as Director, Strategy and Digital and expands Tim Davie’s BBC Worldwide role, while Helen Boaden becomes Director, BBC Radio. Link to BBC.

“I am building a senior team that will define the BBC and public service broadcasting for the next decade." - Tony Hall.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 15, 2013 8:26:37 PM | 94

on conspiracy theories

The political scientist Michael Barkun discussing the usage of this term in contemporary American culture holds that a conspiracy theory is a belief which explains an event as the result of a secret plot by exceptionally powerful and cunning conspirators to achieve a malevolent end.[8][9]

According to Barkun, the appeal of conspiracism is threefold: First, conspiracy theories claim to explain what institutional analysis cannot. They appear to make sense out of a world that is otherwise confusing.

Second, they do so in an appealingly simple way, by dividing the world sharply between the forces of light, and the forces of darkness. They trace all evil back to a single source, the conspirators and their agents.

Third, conspiracy theories are often presented as special, secret knowledge unknown or unappreciated by others. For conspiracy theorists, the masses are a brainwashed herd, while the conspiracy theorists in the know can congratulate themselves on penetrating the plotters' deceptions.[9]

84) "When the opportunity arose, in the faction ridden and bossed Labour Party, those anxious to take his job and cash in were given a bit of assistance." This is likely. It would not have tipped the scales though if there were no other issues.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 16, 2013 1:59:14 AM | 96

It seems Zyqier acquired the identities / copied passports used in Dubai in his social circle.

The fathers of two Australians whose passports were used by Mossad agents have declined to comment on the Zygier case, with one denying any connection between the events.

Lawyer Harvey Bruce, a leading member of the orthodox South Caulfield Hebrew congregation, is the father of Joshua Bruce, who had been studying in Jerusalem for seven years when his passport was used in the assassination of Mabhouh.

Mr Bruce said he was "not at all" happy to discuss the case.

"There's no connection as far as I'm concerned," he said.

The office of Joe Krycer, father of Tel Aviv speech therapist Joshua Aaron Krycer, whose passport was also used in 2010, said he would not be commenting.

Mr Krycer works in the same Caulfield South building as Zygier's father, Geoffrey. Mr Krycer is Victorian bequest director for the Jewish National Fund, which raises money for land conservation projects in Israel, while Mr Zygier is executive director of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission.

Same article quotes Israelis saying Zygier had been questioned by the Australian authorities

Amid a storm of speculation about the reason for the suspected Mossad agent's jailing, including the claim he may have been about to divulge information about Australian passport fraud, a senior Israeli official said Canberra was unlikely to make a request because the Gillard government already had detailed knowledge of the case.

"Every day that goes by you see how deeply involved they were," the official told The Weekend Australian.

"They interrogated him, they suspected him, they knew many things.

"It is clear they were in the know long before he died.

"Then when the coffin was returned to Australia, they knew he was not some backpacker who got lost trekking."

In all articles the timeline gets suspiciously mixed up and blurred. Did Australians question Zygier before or after the Dubai hit. If before, did they pass on the stolen identities to Middle Eastern countries, so Dubai knew something was up right from arrival?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 16, 2013 2:47:21 AM | 97

When

the·o·ry - [thee-uh-ree, theer-ee]

noun, plural the·o·ries =

1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.

2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.

3. Mathematics . a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.

4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.

5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.

and

con·spir·a·cy - [kuhn-spir-uh-see]

noun, plural con·spir·a·cies =

1. the act of conspiring.

2. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.

3. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.

4. Law. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.

5. any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.

Michael Barkun's notion misses intricate parts of truth, thus rendering the entire revelation into nothing more than another opinion.

"If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything." — Confucius

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 16, 2013 5:21:06 AM | 98

When

the·o·ry - [thee-uh-ree, theer-ee]

noun, plural the·o·ries =

1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.

2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation.

3. Mathematics . a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.

4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.

5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting theories of how children best learn to read.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 16, 2013 5:21:49 AM | 99

continued from above:

and

con·spir·a·cy - [kuhn-spir-uh-see]

noun, plural con·spir·a·cies =

1. the act of conspiring.

2. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.

3. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.

4. Law. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.

5. any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.

Michael Barkun's notion misses intricate parts of truth, thus rendering the entire revelation into nothing more than another opinion.

"If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything." — Confucius

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 16, 2013 5:22:24 AM | 100

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