Israel’s Prisoner X ‘gave Mossad secrets to Hezbollah’: German report
March 25, 2013 6 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An Australian-born Israeli spy, who killed himself while being held in an Israeli prison in 2010, had been arrested for sharing Israeli secrets with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, according to a German report. Ben Zygier was an officer in Israel’s covert-action agency Mossad for several years before he was placed in solitary confinement following his arrest in Israel, in February 2010. Known to the outside world only as ‘Prisoner X’, he allegedly killed himself in his cell a few months later. In February of this year, when an Australian television program identified ‘Prisoner X’ as Zygier, the Australian government admitted it had been aware of its citizen’s incarceration and death, but chose not to extend to him diplomatic support. One of the burning questions in the Zygier case relates to the precise reasons for his detention. On Sunday, German newsmagazine Der Spiegel said that the Australian-born Zygier was arrested by Israeli intelligence after contacting —on his own initiative and without permission— an individual with links to militant Shiite group Hezbollah. According to the Spiegel report, Zygier had been demoted from an operations officer to a desk clerk, having failed to produce actionable results after several years of fieldwork in Europe. Seeing his demotion as a major obstacle to his career, the Australian-born spy allegedly embarked on a ‘rogue’ mission, in an attempt to impress his Mossad superiors. In 2008, when the Israeli government allowed Zygier to return to Australia to pursue graduate studies, he secretly traveled to Europe and established contact with a man from a Balkan country known to have close links with Hezbollah, considered by Tel Aviv as one of Israel’s mortal enemies. Zygier’s plan was ostensibly to turn the man into an asset for the Mossad. However, Zygier’s target asked him to prove his Mossad links, at which point, said Der Spiegel, Zygier supplied him with several names of Israel’s double agents inside Hezbollah. But instead of opting to work for Zygier, the Balkan man shared the information he was given with Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is said to have resulted in the arrest of a number of Israeli assets in Lebanon, which was seen as a massive setback for the Mossad. According to Der Spiegel, those arrested included Mustafa Ali Awadeh and Ziad al-Homsi, who at the time were believed to be Mossad’s most lucrative assets inside the Lebanese militant group. The German newsmagazine claims that, when he was arrested by Israeli counterintelligence, Zygier was carrying with him computer discs with classified information, which his captors believed were destined for Hezbollah. The report concludes that Zygier promptly confessed to his ‘rogue’ operation and was facing at least 10 years in prison when he decided to take his own life.