HAARETZ, YNET (Israel), ABC (Australia), NYT (USA)
TEL-AVIV - Australian TV network ABC has uncovered evidence that strongly suggests that Israel's mysterious "Prisoner X" was, in fact, an Australian citizen with ties to the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.
The Prisoner X case is considered as one of the most sensitive secrets of Israel’s intelligence community, according to ABC, with the government going to extraordinary lengths to stifle media coverage.
The first reports of Prisoner X’s death in custody leaked in 2010, when a blogger identified him as an Iranian general, reports the New York Times. There has been much speculation surrounding this anonymous prisoner: was his death in a top-security Israeli jail a suicide, or murder? A gag order prevented journalists from even talking about a gag order.
Prisoner X, or Mister X was the name given since his very existence was not confirmed by Israeli authorities. According to Haaretz, prisoner X was held – without an open trial and for unspecified charges – at one of the most heavily guarded prisons in Israel, the Ayalon facility in Ramla. He was kept in a special maximum-security cell in “Wing 15,” which has only one cell. It was built originally for the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Even Prisoner X's guards didn’t know his identity or why he was held.
His identity has now been revealed as Ben Zygier an Australian national from Melbourne who moved to Israel in 2000. He changed his name to Ben Alon and married an Israeli woman with whom he had two children. He was recruited by the Mossad and became an intelligence and special operations agent.
According to ABC he mysteriously disappeared in early 2010. He was supposedly arrested by the Mossad for national treason and was held as Prisoner X. On Dec. 15 2010, Ben Alon hanged himself in his cell.
Twelve days later, on Dec. 2, the Israeli news website Ynet published a short article on a mysterious prisoner who had killed himself two weeks earlier. The article was quickly removed by Israeli authorities. An Israeli court order prohibits any kind of publication in the media of any matter that could put Israel’s national security at risk.
On Tuesday however, the affair was widely covered by Israeli news sources. However, Israel’s Justice Minister Ya’akov Ne’eman refrained from responding to the matter and made a notable absence in the Israeli Parliament on Wednesday.
A spokesman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) initially said that the Department was unaware of Ben Zygier’s detention but released a statement today saying: "DFAT has now advised that some officers of the department were made aware of Mr Allen's detention at the time in 2010 by another Australian agency,” reports the ABC.
Mr Zygier's arrest and jailing in Israel remains a mystery, says the ABC.
Watch the ABC report on Prisoner X:
ABC report on Prisoner X (YouTube)