Photo: ABC TV
When the Australian Broadcasting Company published an investigative story about an Australian citizen and Israeli spy who died while being secretly detained in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called it “very embarrassing to a certain government agency.”
New reports about Ben Zygier’s work for Israel’s Mossad spy agency are providing an idea of why the case is so important.Australian intelligence officials believe that Zygier, previously known as Israel’s “Prisoner X,” may have been ready to divulge details of Mossad operations — including the use of fraudulent Australian passports — when he was detained in January 2010, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The 34-year-old Jewish Australian ”may well have been about to blow the whistle, but he never got the chance,” an Australian security official told The Herald.
Peter Beaumont of The Guardian reports that in 2009 Australian journalist Jason Katsoukis received a tip that three Australians with joint Israeli citizenship were recruited by Mossad to sell electronic equipment to Iran and elsewhere through a European front company. (Katsoukis later confirmed that Zygier had worked for the company, adding that a senior Israel government official corroborated the tip.)
In February 2010, Israeli intelligence informed the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) of Zygier’s detention—eight days after authorities in Dubai claimed that suspected Israeli agents, using fraudulent Australian passports, had assassinated a Palestinian militant.
The revelations about Zygier’s alleged movements on behalf of Israeli intelligence in Iran, Syria and Lebanon “could have very dramatic repercussions for ongoing Mossad operations,” Israel’s Channel 10 reported Wednesday.
Attorney Avigdor Feldman, who saw Zygier two days before his death of an apparent suicide in December 2012, told The Times of Israel that Zygier was charged with “grave crimes” and was told by interrogators that he could “expect lengthy jail time and [to] be ostracized from his family and the Jewish community.”
Israeli TV also reported that Zygier had worked as a clerk in the international business department of one of Israel’s most prestigious law firms, Herzog Fox & Neeman, which is partially owned by justice minister Yaakov Neeman.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.