– The mystery of suspected Israeli spy Ben Zygier has deepened, with authorities refusing to say whether his jailing in Israel three years ago was linked to the Mossad fake passports scandal.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation stonewalled yesterday over reports Mr Zygier was about to turn whistleblower on Israel when detained in February 2010.
Mr Zygier, 34, of Melbourne, was secretly jailed at the time Israel banned media coverage of the case, known as “Prisoner X”, now reported in the country to be relating to treason.
In December 2010, Mr Zygier died in his cell in a suspected suicide but questions have been raised given the secrecy and the fact his cell was suicide-proof.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr was embarrassed this week after being forced to admit DFAT officials knew of Mr Zygier in February 2010 after the minister previously claimed it found out only after his death.
But former foreign minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday through a spokesman: “Mr Rudd supports the approach the Foreign Minister has taken on this matter.”
Mr Rudd was prime minister at the time of the jailing and was furious publicly with Israel over the passports scandal involving suspected Israeli spies using forged Australian documents to assassinate Hamas weapons importer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in the United Arab Emirates in January 2010.
It was reported yesterday that Australian security officials believed Mr Zygier, a dual national with several names, was about to tip the bucket on Israel over the scam when he was detained only weeks later.
But Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida earlier reported Mr Zygier was a member of a Mossad team that assassinated al-Mabhouh in Dubai.
A DFAT spokeswoman yesterday directed inquiries about the case to Senator Carr’s comments before a parliamentary hearing this week in which he defended the Government.
A spokesman for ASIO was also tight-lipped – Patrick Lion