The story of Australian citizen Ben Zygier, who died in an Israeli prison, was exposed to the general public. As a result of journalistic investigation, it was said that the man had allegedly committed suicide. How did the Australian citizen find himself in a prison cell? What made the young, successful man, the father of two children, commit suicide?
To answer these questions, let us analyse the information that has been published in different sources. According to publications, Ben Zygier was born in 1976 in Melbourne, Australia, to a Jewish family. In 2000, after graduating from the Faculty of Law, he moved to Israel, where he received his second (Israeli) citizenship and changed his name to Ben Allen. In 2000 - 2001, he served in the IDF. Afterwards, in 2001, he returned to Australia and worked as a lawyer. In 2006, Zygier got married and later became the father of two children. Seems to be nothing special - a common story of a Jewish man, who was born in a free country and decided to connect his life with his historical homeland, not only with the country, where he was born and grew up. There is nothing strange about this story, except for the fact that somewhere in this time axis Zygier started cooperation with foreign intelligence of Israel - Mossad.
According to publications, being a Mossad agent, Australian citizen Zygier registered a satellite communications company in Italy and worked there with two other Australians, who also held Israeli citizenship. Mossad's fake company was selling electronic equipment and components to Arab countries. Judging by publications, Zygier personally visited Iran several times, and possibly also Syria and Lebanon. The occupation of Zygier and his companions perhaps opened a way for them to secret military facilities in various Arab states.
The company would have continued its successful activities, if Australian intelligence services had not paid attention to foreign passports of the "entrepreneurs" in 2009. The passports contained multiple border control stamps, indicating their trips to Syria, Iran, Egypt and Dubai. In addition, it also became known that the men had repeatedly changed their names. Having analysed these and other facts, the Australian intelligence agencies suspected that the holders of dual citizenship - Zygier and his colleagues - were spying for Israeli intelligence with the help of Australian passports.
Australia has long complained of the fact that Israeli secret services use Australian passports for their operations abroad. In particular, when Mossad agents used the passports of several Western countries, including Australia, one of the founders of the combat wing of Hamas, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who arranged the smuggling of weapons from Iran to Gaza, was eliminated in January 2010 in Dubai. The use of Australian passports for the elimination of al-Mabhouh caused a diplomatic crisis, which resulted with the expulsion of a representative of the Israeli Embassy from Australia. Australian officials claimed that the expelled diplomat was a Mossad agent.
According to the above-mentioned journalistic investigation, Zygier was arrested in Israel, "in the beginning of 2010," after his Mossad supervisors suspected that he had been questioned by Australian security forces on suspicion of espionage. They concluded that Zygier thus informed them about the use of Australian passports by Israeli intelligence and about secret operations with a fake company, in which he was involved. According to other sources, Zygier was arrested on suspicion of his alleged intention to pass information to Australian intelligence agencies on how Mossad uses Australian passports.
After the arrest, "Prisoner X" (as the media dubbed Zygier) was placed in a secret prison block, in the carefully guarded solitary confinement that used to be prepared for Yigal Amir - the murderer of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. At the request of special services, an Israeli court immediately issued an order that banned the publication of any information relating to the case.
On December 15, 2010, Zygier was found in the toilet of the prison cell hanging on a twisted bed sheet tied to window bars. A recent publication of the judicial investigation into the circumstances of the prisoner's death (which was allowed for publication) said that Zygier's suicide became possible due to the negligence of prison staff. Moreover, it was said that any involvement of "external factors" in the death of "Prisoner X" was out of the question. A toxicological analysis showed the presence of small concentration of sedatives in Zygier's blood, which, allegedly, had nothing to do with the death of the prisoner.
The Office of the Prime Minister of Israel denied the allegation saying that Zygier was arrested on suspicion of transferring sensitive data to security services in Australia. If so, why was a successful Mossad agent arrested at all? Perhaps the answer is hidden in the message from the Office of the Prime Minister. One can read between the lines: Zygier passed a certain amount of sensitive information to someone else.
Does it mean that there was a leak of sensitive information? And what kind of information could it be? If it was about, let's assume, Zygier's activities in Iran, then it is not hard to imagine how valuable every piece of such information for the Israeli secret service. What if by using his fake Italian firm Zygier managed to introduce satellite tracking equipment to Iran's nuclear facilities? In this case any further leak could cause huge and irreversible damage to the struggle against the Iranian nuclear threat. In addition to preventing further leakage of valuable information, Zygier's death could give someone an opportunity to reset impressive assets of the successful fake company, attributing everything to the activities of the deceased agent. Therefore, suspicions of Zygier's murder did not appear from nothing.
It should be added that the secret unit with a solitary prison cell, in which Zygier was kept, is equipped with a modern monitoring system to prevent suicides. The system conducts video surveillance for prisoners in the cell 24/7, and even monitors bodily changes such as nervousness and sweating as a result of emotional stress. How did Zygier manage to prepare and commit suicide despite the fact that his every move was being watched? According to the court investigation, the surveillance system, supposedly, did not cover the area of the bathroom in the cell. Allegation of the "dead zone" of observation, when it comes to the case of such a high level, sounds more than just a little odd.
Meanwhile, the responsibility for the suicide was entirely placed on prison guards: two officers and two prison employees. Israel's Bureau of Prisons resents the fact that its representatives were made the scapegoats in this dark story.
It is too early to say that the case has been closed, because the Australian government has recently decided to conduct its own investigation into the arrest and death of Zygier. Australian diplomats even contacted their Israeli counterparts regarding the matter. Israel may set up a commission to investigate all circumstances of the case.
Lina Tal (Tel Aviv, Israel)
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