Spy held after ‘leaking Mossad work’

AFP-JIJI

A suspected Mossad agent known as Prisoner X was arrested by his own spymasters after leaking detailed information about his work to Australian intelligence services, according to sources cited by broadcaster ABC on Monday.

Ben Zygier, an Australian-Israeli, gave Australian intelligence officials a comprehensive account of a number of Mossad operations, the sources told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Israel’s Parliament said it would launch an “intensive” inquiry into Zygier’s arrest and death after ABC’s “Foreign Correspondent” program last week exposed his identity.

According to ABC, Zygier was found dead in his cell in Ayalon Prison near Tel Aviv in December 2010, in a case Israel went to extreme lengths to cover up.

It imposed a total media blackout on the case but was forced to ease the restrictions after the story made headlines across the world, rendering the local gag order ineffective.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that shining too much light on intelligence activities can “badly damage” state security.

ABC said sources have told the “Foreign Correspondent” program that Zygier gave Australian Security Intelligence Organization officials information that included plans for a top-secret mission in Italy that had been years in the making.

It is unknown who initiated the contact with the Australian intelligence services, which came during one of his frequent visits back with his wife and children.

In one of four trips to Australia in the years before his death, he reportedly applied for a visa to work in Italy.

ABC said it found that Zygier was one of three Australian Jews working for Mossad who changed their names several times, taking out new passports as they traveled in the Middle East and Europe.

Zygier, who immigrated to Israel in around 2001, is believed to have been arrested in February 2010. He was found dead, hanged in his cell, 10 months later despite being under 24-hour surveillance.