(photo credit: REUTERS/Brandon Malone)
Australia's former foreign minister Alexander Downer on Tuesday cast
doubt over reports that the reason behind 'Prisoner X's' incarceration
in Israeli prison was leaking Mossad information to the Australian spy
"I suspect that's not the reason he [Ben Zygier] ended up
in jail," the Australian Associated Press quoted Downer as telling ABC
radio. "I suspect it was something more serious than just sharing
information with ASIO [Australian Security Intelligence Organization]."
The Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s "Foreign Correspondent" reported
Monday that Zygier met with the ASIO, and provided details about
Israel's Mossad secret service operations, including a top-secret
mission in Italy that had taken years to plan.
Melbourne native, visited Australia often with his wife and children,
and enrolled in a master's in business administration program at Montash
University in that city. It was during one of those visits that he had
contact with Australian intelligence, "Foreign Correspondent" reported,
and also applied for a visa to Italy.
Also Tuesday, the Executive
Council of Australian Jewry released a statement explaining that their
previous silence on the affair had been out of respect for the Zygier
The statement acknowledged that
the Israeli Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for
Intelligence and the Israeli State Attorney's office and part of the
Ministry of Justice will be conducting investigations surrounding
"We also welcome the inquiries being undertaken
by Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, within the Department
of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the fact that he has invited the
Israeli authorities to have an input into those inquiries," Executive
Council President Dr Danny Lamm said in the written statement.
look forward to the official inquiries publishing concrete information
about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ben Zygier in the hope
that it will put further rumor and speculation to rest and bring some
comfort to his still-grieving family and friends," Dr Lamm said.
who was known as Prisoner X as well as Ben Alon, was the subject of an
expose by "Foreign Correspondent" that reported February 12 that he was
jailed in early 2010 and apparently committed suicide in the
high-security Ayalon Prison near Tel Aviv. The report suggested that he
worked with the Mossad.
Following the report, internal investigations on his case were initiated in Israel and Australia.
was one of three Australian Jews who changed their names several times,
receiving new passports for travel in the Middle East and Europe
allegedly for their work for the Mossad, according to the news program.
He was buried in Melbourne, where he attended day school.JTA contributed to this report