Australia PM: We learned lessons from Zygier affair

Former Australian PM Rudd demands answers over incarceration, death of Ben Zygier in Israeli jail, Australian news agency reports.

March 7, 2013 10:11
1 minute read.
Australian PM Julia Gillard

julia gillard australian pm 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Thursday that Australia has learned some lessons from the "Prisoner X" affair, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

Her comments came in response to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) report, which suggested that the ministry was informed at least three times of Israel's arrest of Australian-Israeli citizen Ben Zygier, who committed suicide in Israeli prison in 2010.

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Then foreign affairs minister Stephen Smith, however, says he has no recollection of ever being briefed, and on Thursday his office maintained that there was nothing to suggest the minister was ever personally informed of the affair, according to the report.

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"I think we've learned some lessons," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Gillard as saying, in her first response to the DFAT report.   

Meanwhile, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and the federal opposition were demanding more information, according to AAP.

Rudd was prime minister during the time of the arrest of Australian-Israeli citizen Ben Zygier in January 2010, and foreign minister when he committed suicide in Israeli custody 11 months later.

"Why was this individual incarcerated by the Israeli authorities? That is important, we still do not know," The Sydney Morning Herlad quoted Rudd as saying in Melbourne on Thursday. "Was there any connection between this case and that concerning the illegal use of Australian passports by Israeli intelligence services? I don't know the answer to either of those questions. I wait to find out."

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