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ABC report reveals alleged identity of 'Prisoner X'
By BEN HARTMAN
13/02/2013
According to 'Foreign Correspondent' program anonymous prisoner who hung himself in Ayalon Prison in 2010, may be an Australian who was recruited into Mossad; was allegedly kept in same isolation cell as Rabin killer Yigal Amir.
 
An anonymous prisoner who hung himself in Ayalon Prison in December 2010 may be an Australian who made Aliyah and was recruited into the Mossad, according to a report aired on Australia's ABC News on Tuesday night.

The report on ABC's “Foreign Correspondent” program stated that there is strong reason to believe that “Prisoner X” was Melbourne-native Ben Zygier, who went by Ben Alon in Israel. The report states that Zygier was jailed for unknown reasons in early 2010, ten years after he moved to Israel and years after he was recruited into the Mossad. The report also states that Zygier's detention has been one of the most closely-guarded secrets in Israel in recent years, and that the Israeli media unable or willing to report on it and the security establishment has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover up his very existence in prison and the circumstances of his death.



The ABC piece says that Zygier was kept in the same isolation cell built to house Yitzhak Rabin's assassin Yigal Amir, and was kept under constant surveillance until his "apparent suicide." The report quotes an unnamed source as saying that Zygier was working for the Mossad after being recruited as a new immigrant. It also says some that some time after he moved to Israel, Zygier took out a new Australian passport under the name of “Ben Allen," and hints that this may have been so he could travel more inconspicuously in countries hostile to Israel.

In addition, Foreign Minister Bob Carr is quoted by ABC as saying that Australian authorities were never contacted by Zygier's family while he was in custody, and no formal complaints was ever presented by them either.

Foreign sources have also reported that Zygier is the son of Geoffrey Zygier, the executive director of the Victoria Jewish Community Council and one of the leaders of the Melbourne Jewish Community.

After Zygier hung himself, his body was flown back to Melbourne and buried in a Jewish cemetery in Springvale on December 22, 2010, according to the report. The report states that the program has evidence that a death certificate was issued for Zygier at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, ruling the cause of death as asphyxiation by hanging, and that his body was at Ayalon jail.

Correspondent Trevor Bormann says his program lodged a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Foreign Affairs asking for documents relating to Ben Zygier, and were told by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that there are documents relating to Zygier's death and imprisonment but that they could not show them to the show because it could have “a substantial adverse impact on the proper and efficient conduct of consular operations.”

Foreign reports also stated that Zygier was the son of Geoffrey Zygier, the executive director of the Victoria Jewish Community Council and one of the leaders of the Melbourne Jewish Community.

On Tuesday Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman said the citizens of Israel will eventually learn information on the Prisoner X case that the government has censored, as Mks asked him about the case on the floor of the Knesset following news of the ABC report.

"An article was published that an Australian prisoner committed suicide under a different identity. Do you know about the situation? Do you confirm that it occurred?² asked MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al)."

"Are there people in prisons whose incarceration is kept secret? What are the supervision mechanisms on this kind of imprisonment?" demanded Hadash MK Dov Henin. "What are the possibilities for parliamentary supervision on such incarcerations? How can the public be critical in this situation?"

Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On told Neeman, “I want to hear your stance on the fact that journalists volunteer to censor information at the government's request.”

Referring to the informal forum that includes the heads of the country's Hebrew press outlets and The Jerusalem Post, she asked, "Is it proper that the Prime Minister¹s Office invited the Editors' Committee to prevent news from being publicized? Today, we hear that in a country that claims to be a civilized democracy, journalists cooperate with the government, and that anonymous prisoners, who no one knew existed, commit suicide.”

The questions came during Neeman's final speech as justice minister. Neeman responded that prisons were not under his authority, and that the Mks should ask Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch their questions. He added that he did not know if the reports were accurate, and that they should be investigated.

Labor MK Nachman Shai criticized the very existence of a censor. “The prime minister forgot that in 2013, the media does not accept his dictates and does not act according to national consensus as in the past,” he stated. “It would be better to present the public with the truth, within security restrictions, and share it with them.”

Shai plans to propose a bill limiting the possibility of censorship, calling the wide use of the practice “ridiculous and upsetting.” The Labor MK will demand that the courts review censorship requests, and if their content is published in the foreign press, Israeli media should be permitted to print them.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report
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