Ben Zygier – the Mossad agent who killed himself two years ago after being secretly held in Israel's most secure prison – fed details about his missions to the Australian security services, it has been claimed.
Israeli-Australian Zygier was known only as "Prisoner X" until a week ago when Australia's ABC television identified him and claimed that he worked as a spy. Yesterday, the same channel said that Zygier had met members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) – Australia's secret service – during four trips home, and that he disclosed comprehensive details about his Mossad missions.
The Israeli government has refused to comment on Zygier, only belatedly confirming his identity but not that he was a Mossad operative, and ordering newspapers not to report details of the case.
If the ABC claims are correct, the Zygier case represents a serious breach for the agency.
It is believed Zygier was one of three Israeli-Australian agents who took advantage of the Australian law that allows people to change their name every 12 months, and apply for a new passport each time. When Zygier's body was returned to Australia it was under the name Ben Allen.
ABC believes Mossad was particularly concerned that Zygier had revealed details of a complex mission in Italy, which involved setting up a fake electronics firm and selling equipment to, among others, the Iranians.
It is not clear to what extent the mission was a success, why Zygier decided to inform the Asio and how he got caught.
Zygier was a Zionist who moved to Israel in the 1990s, after which he was recruited by Mossad. The agency was eager to recruit those with dual nationality, allowing them to travel freely on another country's passport.
Mossad used passports from several countries – including Ireland – during an operation in early 2010 when a Hamas commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, was killed in Dubai.
Zygier died in December 2010 after hanging himself in a solitary confinement cell. Such was the secrecy surrounding his case that not even his prison guards were aware of his name. (© Independent News Service)