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'Zygier gave Mossad secrets to Australian agency'

February 18, 2013 10:59

Australian broadcaster claims 'Prisoner X' gave internal Australian intel agency detailed information on Mossad operations.

ABC mock up of Ben Zygier passport.

Ben Zygier passport 370. (photo credit:ABC News)

Alleged Mossad agent Ben Zygier, who killed himself in an Israeli prison in 2010, was arrested by his Mossad handlers for giving intelligence information to Australia's domestic intelligence agency, ASIO, the Australian TV channel ABC quoted sources as saying on Monday.

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ABC, which originally broke the story of Zygier's suicide in an Israeli jail under a fake name last week, reported Monday that Zygier gave detailed information about various Mossad operations, including a major operation in Italy, that had been planned over a period of several years.

According to the report, Zygier had applied for a work visa to Italy on one of his trips back to Australia.

ABC emphasized that it was not clear whether Zygier or ASIO had initiated the contact.

The ABC report came as the investigation into Zygier's death are being ramped up in Israel. A group of MKs will investigate the “Prisoner X” case, the Knesset announced on Sunday night.

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for Intelligence plans to hold an “intensive examination” of the circumstances surrounding the prison suicide of Zygier.

Meanwhile, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Monday said at a conference in Ra'anana that he would wait a few days before deciding whether to review the affair.

He said he wanted to wait to see how the Knesset State Control Committee, the Attorney-General and the government in general treated the issue.

Shapira acknowledged receipt of a request to investigate the matter by Labor MK Nachman Shai.

According to Shapira, it is not obvious that the issue comes under his jurisdiction, and he has not received an official request from the State Control Committee, the committee he most directly answers to, to investigate.

Shapira said that it is better for his office to get involved only when a formal request is made by proper channels, not by request by individual Knesset members.

A number of MKs had called for the state comptroller or a government inquiry commission to probe the events. MK Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi), the chairman of the control committee in the last five months of the 18th Knesset, had requested that the temporary Knesset House Committee reinstate the panel and put him at its head, in order to discuss the incident and vote to form a government inquiry commission.

In letters to temporary Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) and interim Knesset House Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu), Ariel had explained that “a temporary chairman for the control committee must be appointed in light of the difficult findings in this case.”

“There was a slip-up here,” Ariel told Army Radio. “We don’t understand what happened here; therefore the Knesset needs to have its say and form an inquiry commission.”

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) called for State Comptroller Joseph Shapira to investigate the “Prisoner X” case.

“We are witnessing failures in many aspects of this incident: Intelligence, legal, public, media and parliament,” Shai stated.

The Labor MK warned that the Australian government will soon publicize further information on the case and Israel will be “an empty vessel” facing international public opinion.

“Time is a crucial factor, and I demand that the state comptroller limit the time of the investigation and commit to publicizing his findings for the public to see as soon as possible,” Shai said.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.
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  • Israel news
  • Knesset
  • Mossad
  • prisoner x
  • state comptroller
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