- 06 марта 2013, 13:41
Evidence suggests Ben Zygier, who died in Israeli prison, worked for the Mossad, says minister
Australia's foreign minister, Bob Carr, has confirmed that the man known as Prisoner X, a dual Israeli-Australian national who died in mysterious circumstances in a high-security Israeli prison in 2010, was working for the Israeli government.
Ben Zygier's death in December 2010, apparently by suicide, has been shrouded in mystery. Last month, Israel was forced to admit that it had secretly imprisoned Zygier on serious but unspecified charges.
Zygier, 34, a father of two, originally from Melbourne but who had lived in Israel for 10 years and was also known by the names Ben Allen and Ben Alon, was believed to have worked for Israel's external intelligence agency, the Mossad. He was arrested in February 2010.
Carr, said: "Open sourced material … would suggest he [Zygier] worked for the intelligence arm of the Israeli government. I cannot confirm or deny those reports, but you can draw your own conclusions."
His comments came as he released his department's review into Australia's handling of the Zygier case. He said the review raised "unanswered questions about the use of Australian passports of a dual national and they are not easily resolved".
"If it transpires that Australian passports were used for security or intelligence gathering by Israel in this case; it is something against which we take the strongest opposition," Carr said. "No country can allow the integrity of its passport system to be compromised."
He was unable to confirm speculation that Zygier's passports had been used in the 2010 murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, an operation in which a team of killers, believed to be Mossad agents, used stolen Australian and British identities.
Carr said: "We know that in 2010 there was an episode of this in Dubai. We can't say it took place in this case with Mr Zygier's several passports. I hope that one of the inquiries taking place in Israel can clarify this position."
"If that's confirmed we will be registering our strongest protest."
The Mossad's use of foreign passports prompted furious reactions from Britain and Australian not long before Zygier's secret arrest and an Israeli diplomat was expelled from Canberra a few months later.
Carr confirmed that Israeli authorities had given assurances to Australia's intelligence service, Asio, at the time of Zygier's detention that he would be afforded his full rights in jail. Carr also confirmed that Zygier had more than 50 visits from his family and lawyer during the 10 months he was held.
"At no time did his family or his lawyer come to the Australian government and say they needed assistance," he said. Carr said the decision by his department not to follow up on the Zygier case while he was detained "reflected an assessment that Israel would probably not grant access to Mr Zygier".
Carr reaffirmed that the Australian ambassador in Tel Aviv had not been informed of Zygier's detention but said the Australian government had sought and relied on assurances from the Israeli government that his legal rights would be respected, that he had a lawyer of his own choosing and that he was not being mistreated.