Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus denied on Friday that alleged Mossad
agent Ben Zygier had been in contact with Australia’s internal intelligence
agency, ASIO, before he was arrested in Israel in early 2010.
statement came in response to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation report last
week that the dual Israeli-Australian citizen had been arrested for leaking
Mossad secrets to the ASIO.
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“The attorney-general has been fully briefed
by the director- general of ASIO on his agency’s knowledge of this case. The
director-general’s account is entirely consistent with the recent statement
issued by the Israeli prime minister,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted
Dreyfus’s spokeswoman as saying.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu issued a statement saying that, contrary to reports, Zygier had no
contact with Australian intelligence agencies.
“The Prime Minister’s
Office would like to note that between the government of Israel and all its
agencies, and the government of Australia and the Australian security agencies,
there is excellent cooperation, full coordination and complete transparency in
dealing with current issues,” the statement continued.
Reports in the
foreign press have made a battery of claims about Zygier, a married father of
two, including that he was about to or had already spilled secrets about Mossad
operations to Australian intelligence, and that he had given up the identities
of Mossad operatives to Dubai authorities following the killing there of senior
Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in 2010.
The case of the Melbourne-born
Zygier broke in Israel two weeks ago, when the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation ran an investigative report alleging that Zygier was the so-called
“Prisoner X,” an anonymous prisoner who killed himself in solitary confinement
at Ayalon Prison in Ramle in 2010, with his existence unknown to the
The report alleged that Zygier, who went by the name Ben Alon in
Israel, may have worked for the Mossad at some point before he was arrested in
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Dreyfus’s spokeswoman as saying
that Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr had ordered a review of the consular
aspects of the case and that “the attorney-general has said that he has seen
nothing at this stage to indicate that an additional review is
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.