Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Report Ties 'Prisoner X' to Breach of Security ; Ex-Israeli Agent Exposed Informants to Hezbollah, 2 News Outlets Conclude

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Report Ties 'Prisoner X' to Breach of Security ; Ex-Israeli Agent Exposed Informants to Hezbollah, 2 News Outlets Conclude

Article excerpt

Two news organizations have reported that Ben Zygier unintentionally exposed two top spies for Israel in Lebanon, revealing their identities to a European man known to be close to Hezbollah.

Israel has revealed very little about the man known as Prisoner X, an Australian-Israeli who was jailed here in 2010 after apparently getting caught in a web of espionage and intrigue, other than how he died: alone, by asphyxiation, after hanging himself in the shower of his cell.

Since the episode was exposed last month, the authorities in Israel have rigorously concealed the reason for the arrest and secret imprisonment of the man, identified as Ben Zygier, as he awaited trial in solitary confinement, citing interests of national security.

But in the latest twist, two news organizations have reported that Mr. Zygier, who was 34 when he died in December 2010, unintentionally exposed two top spies for Israel in Lebanon, revealing their identities to a European man known to be close to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite organization Israel fought in a monthlong war in 2006.

A lengthy report Monday in The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, the result of a joint investigation with the German magazine Der Spiegel, said that Mr. Zygier had given the man the information as part of an unauthorized, freelance effort to recruit him as a double agent for the Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence agency.

Most of the details of Mr. Zygier's case remain subject to a strict, court-ordered blackout in Israel, and the story could not be independently verified.

Mr. Zygier is now known to have been an enthusiastic Zionist who grew up in a prominent Jewish family in Melbourne; immigrated to Israel as a young man; served in the Israeli military; and worked for a year as a lawyer in a prominent Tel Aviv firm. According to the new reports, he was recruited to the Mossad and was sent on his first mission to Europe in 2005 with instructions to infiltrate companies that had business relationships with countries like Iran and Syria.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, he was hired by a midsize European company, where he was said to have shown great acumen but to have quickly grown bored with the jobs he was assigned. …

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