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The Lonesome Death of Mossad Agent, Ben Zygier

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  • Igal February 12, 2013, 3:22 PM

    Yaakov Neeman

  • Orange February 12, 2013, 4:00 PM

    This is a very well stated article.

    I suppose that your blog is getting a record number of hits from Australian sources, as people seek out information.

    On your speculation about Kevin Rudd – very to the point. Rudd was Prime Minister when the Dubai incident happened, and he ordered a Federal Police investigation into the use of the Australian passports. Not long afterwards, a storm of intrigue arose, and he was forced out of office by an internal coup in his own party. Julia Gillard, who replaced him, is noted as having the strongest affiliations to Israel of any leading member of the Labor Party. There were rumours that the policy Rudd took in regard to the Dubai affair was one of the reasons for animosity towards him, although there is no actual evidence of this (well, there wouldn’t be.)

    Also, Kevin Rudd is a former diplomat, and as such, would have many links to the world of the intelligence agencies. Who ever leaked this matter, had high level media contacts, and high level spook-world contacts. This diplomat/former Prime Minister has both.

    And out of respect for Kevin Rudd, I would say that he would be very concerned about such human rights abuses, and the sad fate of this Australian citizen.

  • Mark Robinson February 12, 2013, 4:42 PM

    This is not the 1960s anymore. The time when israelis could attack a US ship and get away are over.

  • Yanshuf February 12, 2013, 4:57 PM

    the three were not brave because they have parliamentary immunity and because the parties that they represent.

    Now if they were members of Likud or Yesh Atid then they would have been brave.

    Also if they want him disappeared as a Mossad agent he met a tragic death in the line of duty overseas.
    It does happen. That is disappeared.

    As to Marcus Klinsberg peope knew he was ” disappeared” but they did not speak about it. His daughter and wife knew he was imprisoned. Co workers knew he disappeared,knew it was security related but did not know the details.

    Richard, ave you or your source ever felt you were undersurvailance?
    I do know that Israel does gather intelligence about potential terrorist threats in the US.

    • Richard Silverstein February 12, 2013, 6:33 PM

      THe State told everyone that he disappeared on a trip abroad. That is what I heard his family was told. I never heard that his family knew he was in prison, but that’s certainly possible.

      I do not know whether I’m under surveillance but I act as if I might be at any time. I try to be as transparent as I can & not shield my actions unless being too public would harm or implicate another person (ie. a source).

  • Yanshuf February 12, 2013, 5:01 PM

    sorry idid not. Intend to imply you were a terrorist.

    I in a very akward way i wanted to say that Israel runs intelligence operations in the US.

    • Fred Plester February 13, 2013, 3:47 AM

      It does that alright.
      And if the yield of such operations is something of no use to Israel, it will barter information and technology to America’s enemies and potential enemies to get something it can use. China’s stealth fighter programme wouldn’t be happening without Israeli help.

      If there wasn’t a powerful Israeli fifth column in Congress and the Senate, the US would probably treat Israel as an enemy state.

  • ABC delivers again February 12, 2013, 5:06 PM

    I think it must relate to Israel’s unmentionable convention breaching chemical or germ weapons programs. As an Australian we probably wish we had some state secrets worthy of high espionage and protecting but we are way too boring. I will say this, if you grow up in suburban Melbourne you would be totally, totally unprepared for the cutthroat world of spying and life affecting consequences. The closest international dispute during my lifetime is East Timor, maybe 4000km+ away. I certainly wouldn’t trust my naive instincts coming from a cotton wooled island continent where national tensions are about sport. It’s very, very possible this guy screwed up rather than acted up due to being insensitive to the gravity of a situation. I think I would find it impossible, having grown up in Melbourne, to appreciate quite how serious or deadly tensions and nerves are in the rest of the world.

    • Fred Plester February 13, 2013, 3:56 AM

      You’d be surprised how much American and British military technology is developed in partnership with Australia, and even more of it is tested in Australia. Supposedly, Australia is a more secure location than South Africa, where the range fees are cheaper, but I begin to wonder if this is still true.

      It’s a lot easier to obtain clear and meaningful footage of tests in Australia than the Falklands or Stornaway, for example, and you’re less likely to have to treat top scientists for hypothermia. The downside is that spy satellites get a good view, too, whereas the odds are strongly against any satellite getting clear shots of something on the runway at Stornaway or Mount Pleasant, which is partly why those runways are so big in relation to the islands they are on.

      Tests of radar and communications equipment tend to happen in Australia, though, because the key factor is not satellite photography but distance between the test site and possible signal monitoring stations.

  • Ron February 12, 2013, 5:13 PM

    This could be the beginning of another Lavon Affair.

  • Walter February 12, 2013, 5:20 PM

    Very likely he was hidden away simply because of who his father was. That more than justifies the extraordinary measure and the secrecy. The evidence of that will surely be visible shortly.

  • irit February 12, 2013, 5:37 PM

    I can attest from my family, that the loyalty to the junta surpasses the natural love instincts, and money plays a role as well. You can examine the Vanunu case, to see how the family is “worked” to finally neglect the victim. Families are easily manipulated ,as you were too, with all kinds of lies, diversion, bribes, pitting, and since they agreed in the first place to “play the game” (namely, to let their son enter this game), they are usually trapped well before this happens. You easily took the “iranian bait”, didnt you ? imagine what other tools are in that box of manipulations. The shepherd is eating the sheep, and saying its for the protection of the tribe.

    • Fred Plester February 13, 2013, 4:04 AM

      We’ve seen the heat being turned on a Jewish South African judge by the country’s Jewish community, to order, so it’s possible the family in this case do have a great deal to fear.

  • Ernest February 12, 2013, 5:59 PM

    A major question must be why they imprisoned him before his accidental suicide under observation and didn’t just have him ‘accidented’ or suicided straight away. They must have needed some information from him, information that is important enough to risk this exposure. Does anyone have any information about his erstwhile colleagues in the Australian Mossad?

  • Alison Caldwell February 12, 2013, 7:13 PM

    Richard, could you please email me a contact telephone number for you. I’m a journalist with the ABC, based in Melbourne, Australia.

    Kind regards

    Alison Caldwell

  • Ido February 12, 2013, 7:38 PM

    “Further, the notion that a Mossad agent would betray his agency and country for the sake of conscience is something quite unprecedented in Israel.” This statement may well be true for Mossad agents but, still, the case of M. Vanunu (mentioned by an earlier comment) comes to mind as a precedent.

    • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2013, 12:46 AM

      Yes, but as you say not a Mossad agent. Although I respect greatly what he did.

      • Eden February 13, 2013, 7:51 AM

        Why do you respect people who betray their country? In what way would the disclosure of Israel hypothetical nuclear technology be useful to Israel? You may not like Israel but you must agree than a person who betrays his country’s interests is a sociopath. BTW, this also applies to other countries. An Iranian who would reveal information that could damage Iran would not have my sympathy either.

    • Fred Plester February 13, 2013, 4:00 AM

      Depends which was “his country”.

      If Israel required him to do Australia harm, rather than “cause embarrassment” he might have regarded that as treason, with Mossad regarding refusal to betray Australia brown and fair as treason, too.

  • Ron February 12, 2013, 7:52 PM

    Kudos, Richard, for being the first to break this story. This could be as big if not bigger than the Lavon Affair, yet I suspect we will not know in our lifetimes unless internal spats at higher echelons cause someone to leak more information.

    The information Ziegier held must have been earth shattering as far as Israel is concerned since this kind of treatment for an Israeli Jew is unheard of. And the only thing in my opinion that could shake Israel’s foundations and warrant such secrecy would be something similar to the Lavon Affair – false flag operations against its sponsor, the United States, in an effort to draw it into the “war on terror”.

  • Con Barrington February 12, 2013, 8:09 PM

    I would probably differ on your political conclusions.

    1. The Liberal Party are probably the recipients of any Jewish community largesse and donations. The timing of the release of the story- now 2 years since the body was deceased- may be an election ploy aimed at trapping Abbott into saying something.
    2. Lee Rhianonn may or may not have something to do with it. She has taken a lot of flak for her attitude to Israel, but in this case, she is probably just sitting back like polly enjoying her cracker.
    3. Families are usually silent if they have a member who is a nutcase/ insane. This appears to be the likeliest explanation for the family’s silence. I know that in my own family a certain person of dubious mental stability, is never spoken of, and everyone treads around their health problem (but, of course, even the maddest of people do not deserve unspecified incarceration without due processing under mental health laws), but no claims seem to have been made in this case.
    4. anyone can claim to be a secret agent, and, correspondingly, suss third world governments can claim that anyone is a “danger” to security and never have to back it up with one iota of evidence, especially in countries where the rule of law does not prevail; it has always been the hallmark of totalitarian regimes worldwide that people can disappear in the middle of the night and never be heard of again. You can go back to Nazi Germany if you like but there has been numerous illustrations since. The general thread is a total lack of accountability, and answerability to any legal process. There are certainly impressions of this to date.

    We may have to invent a class of country lower than third world. If Israel now wants to join the bottom feeders, including those around it, it leaves little differentiation with those countries that practice this sort of thing on a much wider scale with even less compunction or regard for human life and Western humanistic values, which probably covers quite a bit of the Middle East. If you can’t beat the others, join them.

  • Alex February 12, 2013, 8:33 PM

    As a keen observer of Australian politics I think that it is highly doubtful and highly unlikely that Kevin Rudd was involved in leaking this information. Of course it is theoretically plausible, but it’s unclear how this information would embarrass Julia Gillard and how it would help him – it’s all too remote. Kevin Rudd is currently more concerned about finding out who leaked an unflattering video of him swearing onto Youtube.

    • Bill February 13, 2013, 2:18 AM

      I agree. I can’t see much advantage for Rudd in this unless there’s a lot more to it and Gillard was actively involved in covering it up, say closing down a Rudd initiated inquiry.

      I doubt this will be a big issue for Australian domestic politics. Much as the political classes might get exercised about Israel, pretty much everyone else expects them to behave badly, but beyond that couldn’t give a damn one way or the other. If it was New Zealand or the UK, there’d be an uproar.

  • Amir February 12, 2013, 10:44 PM

    I don’t believe the suicide story. That facility was specifically built to prevent suicides of prisoners and everything that went in there has been checked a hundred times for its suicide assisting potential.

    • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2013, 12:42 AM

      @Amir: I should add that originally my source told me that Prisoner X had been murdered. I could never verify that & don’t want to put that out there as fact. But the suicide story is suspect in many ways. If it really happened then the prison guards were incredibly negligent. But don’t forget that the Shabak essentially had control of the prisoner & told the prison guards to keep hands off. So a gap may’ve been created which Zygier fell through & so got an opportunity to kill himself.

      • Eric Rosenstock February 13, 2013, 1:18 AM

        His alleged day of death does coincide chronologically with a time that Israel prison services might be expected to find themselves under particular turmoil/strain: just over week or so after the Carmel forest fire deaths of that busload of prison services cadets.

        Could perhaps such a gap be created/exacerbated by simple gross negligence?

        (Picture top-ranked prison guards at, say, a memorial service — with back-up coverage coming from, say, some group of rookie guards that had no idea how to correctly monitor all the fancy suicide prevention technology. Pretty damn embarrassing to an already quite embarrassed ministry…)

        Just another thought to consider.

      • Fred Plester February 13, 2013, 9:14 AM

        The extraordinary conditions under which the man was detained, would surely have made it more likely that he’d be desperate and isolated enough to attempt suicide, too.

        It’s not usually the maximum security prisoners who succeed in committing suicide in mainstream jails.

  • Itai February 12, 2013, 11:24 PM

    “Neiman admitted that Zygier had never been tried for his alleged crime”?
    Richard, where did you get that from? that would be the real story here if it were true, but I think its not and you are misleading your readers.

    “Can anyone imagine the media of any other democracy in the world accepting such a burden?”
    We were informed that the NYtimes and Washington post accepted such a burdon just a week ago and for lesser reasons.

    My conclusion so far – much ado about nothing.

    • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2013, 12:37 AM

      On an ABC Radio during an interview in which I participated, Channel 10’s chief correspondent confirmed he had not been tried. I believe the ABC documentary says the same thing. THere were no legal proceedings concerning Zygier’s case. If you can find any, let me know. And that IS the story. It’s a story of the total degradation of the rule of law & decimation of due process and citizen rights.

      What the U.S. media agreed to do in the drone case, while despicable, in no way matches the situation regarding the Israeli media in this case. In this case, a Mossad agent was disappeared and allowed to commit suicide. While I of course value the lives of Muslims killed in drone strikes, it would be far different in terms of political impact, if a drone killed a CIA agent or if the U.S. government disappeared without trial a CIA agent who had betrayed the U.S. THAT’S what happened here.

      • Lior February 13, 2013, 2:10 AM

        So Ne’eman did not in fact admit to this, rather you got it from a channel 10 correspondent (who is unassumingly just as much in the shadow as the rest of us). You can see Ne’eman’s answers to the parliamentary query here: http://www.hakafe.com/post100398.html#post100398

      • An Israeli February 13, 2013, 8:24 AM

        Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. He might have been judged and the process sealed, as is very common when dealing with sensitive information, _everywhere_ in the world.

      • Eden February 13, 2013, 10:59 AM

        US drones have killed US citizens not just foreign Arabs and Muslims. Your argument has no legs to stand on.

  • Joel February 12, 2013, 11:55 PM

    “he was one of the Australian-Israelis heard speaking English with an Aussie accent on the Mavi Marmara during the attack”

    Who says they heard Ausssie accents on the Mavi Marmara during the attack?

    • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2013, 12:32 AM

      Sol Salbe, an Israeli-Australian Jew informed me of that.

      • Joel February 13, 2013, 6:02 AM

        Sol got it wrong.

        An Aussie journalist on one of the little ships belonging to the flotilla said that an IDF commando with an Aussie accent boarded the little ship he was on. That small ship did not report violence during the boarding.

        No one on the Mavi Marmara reported any Aussie accented commandos on that boat.

      • Marilyn February 13, 2013, 11:35 AM

        Paul McGeough was on one of the boats and heard the Australian’s talking.

    • Lior February 13, 2013, 2:11 AM

      There were several Australians on board the flotilla. Wikipedia refers to 3 but mentions the names of 2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_participants_of_the_Gaza_flotilla

    • Meni Zehavi February 13, 2013, 3:38 AM

      I doubt the Mavi Marmara connection.
      First, Richard’s initial report on Prisoner X dates June 13, 2010. The Ynet report about him dated a day or two earlier. According to the report, some of the personnel at the Ayalon prison were puzzled by a prisoner being detained there for some time without getting any visits or any contact with the outside world. The Mavi Marmara incident took place on May 31, 2010. This leaves only about 10 days for Prisoner X to be arrested, delivered to the Ayalon jail and kept there long enough to arouse the puzzlement of the prison servicemen about his isolation. This seems too short a span.
      Second, the co-operation of the Australian intelligence service with the Mossad in this matter would be strange in the months after the Israeli misuse of Australian passports exploded in the Mabhuh asassination on January 19, 2010.

      I suspect that Zygier was detained in early January 2010, or perhaps even a few weeks earlier. What his alleged misdeed was, is hard to guess. But given the several loosy ends of the Mabhuh assassination, it stands to reason that the asassination was carried out speedily under some sort of emergency order, without full attention being paid to cover all the ends. Perhaps Zygier was somehow suspected of being prone to disrupt or disclose the Mossad surveillance of Mabhuh. Then, the Aussie spy agency would be somehow cajoled into silencing the detention of Zygier, perhaps just days before Mabhuh was assassinated. This scenario would also provide an additional reason for a strong reaction of the Australian government when it realized that co-operation with the Israelis in the Zygier affair was repaid by Israel with a misuse of Australian passports.
      Also, it is interesting that to illustrate his point about Aussie Jews coming to Israel and servng the state, Bormann chose to air an interview with a medical student who worked with Palestinian youth. This is not a typical way of how the State of Israel would employ foreign Jews willing to serve it, and Bormann must be erudite enough to know that. Is he hinting that Zygier was having a close relationship with some Palestinian person (with Israeli citizenship or without it), and was therefore perceived by the Mossad as a potential security threat?

      • Moti February 13, 2013, 9:52 AM

        I read all the I.Asimov books. Your theories are far better then any book ever written.
        You should move into science fiction.

  • Mosh February 13, 2013, 12:47 AM

    Here is a prsent for you: his wife’s name is tali and this isa photo from their marriage


    • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2013, 1:02 PM

      I believe I know his wife’s name & if I’m correct it isn’t Tali. I don’t want to invade his family’s privacy in any way.

  • Uri February 13, 2013, 1:06 AM

    Few points I found intersting:

    1) The prison cell was suicide-proof. Are we witnessing the 2nd case of execution in Israel outside the military law (3rd if we count military court)? The first was Eichmann’s, who was executed in the same prison BTW.
    2) Coincidently, Ehud Barak flew to the US 2 days ago, which matches the date of the broadcast. So I’m putting my money this case has to do with US-Israel relations
    3) I heard MK Miri Regev (Likud) on radio today, and remembered she used to be the chief censor. To those who don’t know, she is one of the stupidest MKs ever, so stupid I wonder how she can walk and breath at the same time. Her being the cheif censor tells you what masterminds head this institution

  • ron February 13, 2013, 1:24 AM

    no facts at all only “My guess is that Zygier was not just disappeared”, ” My impression is that if the Australia…”. “I’m just using this as a hypothetical and haven’t checked whether the dates correspond chronologically…”

  • Ernest February 13, 2013, 1:24 AM


    Since the Australian media in general and the ABC in particular are rabidly pro-zionist and generally subservient to anything put out by Likudniks, have you any idea why they are splashing this story and presenting it as their main headline? Is there something else going on?

  • hakafe February 13, 2013, 1:37 AM

    There is some more info regarding your speculation of the Marmara link:


    Reports refer to him behind held since the beginning of 2010 which does not coincide with the marmara story, however the first article was put up by ynet on the 13th of June which is 2 weeks following the marmara affair. You can see documents in the link.

  • hakafe February 13, 2013, 1:38 AM


  • shaun February 13, 2013, 2:02 AM

    Has anyone considers that its possible that Ben was “turned” while on assignment and began supplying information to “enemy” organizations or governments?
    In this case Israel may have intercepted Ben and tried to turn him back, possibly by using his family and friends as leverage. This could explain why all his acquaintances are silent.

  • coldwarrabbit February 13, 2013, 3:24 AM

    dear richard the level of interoperability between mossad and australia’s fascist faggott security services is complete and total ……my opinion is that the above zygier was a ‘joint’ asset of the above whose job was to ‘eliminate’ anyone who raised a hand [or point out the ringleaders for elimination] against the boarding party
    apparently he went soft [went native] and as such is a ‘qisling’ to the above security concerns
    our security services think they can roam the world bang up anyone on any charge, anywher, no evidence, no court, no lawyers, no rights………. totally out of control as long as faggie the policman or agent can bag a ter and be usss usss usss usss[famous]
    oh!!! the government of cowards that puts little children in concentration camps till they are mentally affected for the rest of their lives actually putting itself out to protect a citizen of its own balls balls balls and balls
    peter dawson radford coldwarrabbit

  • Curious and Curioser February 13, 2013, 4:42 AM

    The recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald is pretty telling…that Australian journalists had already outed him as a spy in 2010 (prior to this obviously) due to characteristic Mossad name changing……that is even obvious to Australian news services. How crazy is it Australian journalists confronting a spy and watching his response…he really looks small time to me which makes his public enemy #1 status even more interesting.

  • Curious and Curioser February 13, 2013, 5:06 AM

    “It is understood the ASIO investigation into Mr Zygier and the two other men began at least six months before the January 10, 2010, assassination of senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have been carried out by Mossad using Australian and European passports.” (sydney morning herald)

    So this guy was outed spy known to ASIO for six months and known to commercial media. This guy was a free man walking freely in Israel in early 2010 and had ZERO worth as an outed spy. Logic suggests he CANNOT have done anything ‘secret’ after that time, so either:

    – he didn’t tell Mossad about his being unearthed by Fairfax
    – he blabbed to ASIO? (Doesn’t seem to be the case)
    – Mossad used him for Top Secret service after being outed (doubtful)
    – Mossad were slow on the uptake

    • Meni Zehavi February 13, 2013, 1:04 PM

      Mabhuh was assassinated Jan. 19, 2010. It would be very interesting to know whether the Fairfax phone interview with Zygier took place before or after that date.
      The very fact that he returned to Israel after being interrogated by ASIO is remarkable. If he were a double agent (working knowingly for some “big enemy” of Israel), he would have understood that his chances to stay alive and free are not large.
      Moreover, if Fairfax interviewed Zygier on phone while he was in Israel in early 2010, this means that he was not arrested immediately on his return from Australia.
      His frequent change of Australian passports under different names doesn’t look a smart move as well. Of course, he may have been ordered by the Mossad to do that just for the sake of the service gaining several usable passports, but exploiting him in this dumb way means he wasn’t especially valuable to the Mossad as a personal asset.
      There are two many things here that don’t add up. But we may all know more soon.

  • shmuel February 13, 2013, 6:05 AM

    Surely the real hero here is the whistleblower from the prison services that leaked out the story to ynet and then to the Australian press.

    Why is no one spilling out his praise?

    • Fred Plester February 13, 2013, 7:36 AM

      Perhaps they’re all trying not to focus attention on him, which wouldn’t end well.

    • Moti February 13, 2013, 9:55 AM

      Why do you think the whistle-blower is an Israeli ? make’s more sense he’s an Australian.
      Enough folks at the Australian administration knew about the case, The inserting fact is that the story aired at the 5 anniversary to killing of Imad Mughniyah.

    • Yossi February 13, 2013, 11:23 AM

      A lot of people knew about Prisoner X, including leftist activists is Israel, even before he committed suicide. Read the Yossi Melman’s report in Walla, in Richard’s following article.

  • Eden February 13, 2013, 7:30 AM

    In these kind of stories, it is very hard to know what is real and what is not. If indeed Mr. Zygier was betraying Israel then it is hard to feel sorry for him. I have very little respect for people who betray their country. In the US, this would result in a drone strike against you and the people standing next to you. In most countries writing in an internet blog could get you killed, in a democracy you have to betray your country and become a threat to national security.

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