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Ben Zygier Visited Iran Undercover for Mossad, Recruited Saudi, Iranian Students at Australian University

UPDATE:Israel has just released (Hebrew and English) its first official statement about its treatment of Ben Zygier.  It has acknowledged without specifically naming him that it held a prisoner under a fictitious name and that the prisoner died in custody.  The State said that it had notified Zygier’s family of his detention.  It said it would investigate the possibility of negligence in his treatment while in prison.

In an effort to address the charge that Zygier received shoddy judicial treatment, the government also revealed that he had lawyers.  He was represented by the same firm that represented Ehud Olmert and which often deals in cases with the security apparatus.  But they are not attorneys known for taking on human rights cases.  The claim by the State that Zygier was afforded all rights due to him as a citizen and that all legal proceedings were proper seems either laughable on its face or an outright lie.

The statement also claims Zygier was held under the auspices of the justice ministry.  The minister is Yaakov Neeman, the same individual who spoke from the Knesset rostrum answsering questions of MKs yesterday claiming that he knew nothing of the case and that Zygier was never under his ministry’s jurisdiction.  An outright lie.  A further odd development in the story is the news that Zygier, who trained as a lawyer, interned in the legal firm of the current justice minister: none other than Mr. Neeman!

An Israeli judge oversaw a supposed investigation into the circumstances of his death, but the findings are secret.  Six weeks ago, the file was allegedly sent by the judge to the State prosecutor for investigation of the possibility of negligence involved in the death.  This is supposed to satisfy us I suppose.

Besides the three MKs who asking probing questions of Neeman that elicited his lies, another hero of the proceedings was Binyamin Ben Eliezer, acting Speaker, who was asked by the military censor to tell MKs that there was a gag order in place that prohibited discussion of the matter.  Ben Eliezer refused to relay the message to the legislators and the debate continued without interruption.

*  *

The Prisoner X-Ben Zygier case continues to develop.  I will be interviewed by Israeli Channel 10′s Tzinor Layla at 12 midnight Israel time.  It will be the first story up in the program.  The Social TV video above was recorded about 48 hours ago and reflects what I knew at the time.  But it’s still useful as an overview of the entire case.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an interesting report that includes material they reported back in 2010 about Zygier’s spying within Australia on behalf of the Mossad. He was accused then by Australia’s intelligence agency of applying multiple times for passports in different names including Ben Alon, Ben Allen and Benjamin Burrows. This is a sure sign among the world’s intelligence agencies that their nation’s passports are being used for espionage purposes.

This occurred shortly before three passports of Australian-Israeli dual citizens were cloned by the Mossad and used in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabouh. Though there isn’t necessarily any direct connection between Zygier’s activities and the Dubai episode.

The news report also notes that Zygier enrolled at Monash University (where his mother worked) in an MBA program. While there he was allegedly seen socializing on campus with groups of Saudi and Iranian students. This might mean that just as Zygier himself was recruited to the Mossad, he may’ve been recruiting potential agents. Presumably these students would eventually return to their home countries where they might serve useful purposes for Israeli intelligence.

It appears likely that Zygier used his new passports for travel to Iran (and also possibly Lebanon and Syria).  I reported that the ships of Israel’s Ofer Brothers were suspected by the U.S. of breaking the international sanctions regime against Iran.  The reason they did was, at least in part, to ferry Mossad agents to and from Iran.  One of them may possibly have been Zygier.  In addition, several of the agents involved in the al-Mabouh assassination left Dubai via ferry to Iran.  Israel is known to have an MEK-facilitated spy network inside Iran which helped in the nuclear scientist assassinations and other sabotage efforts.  It’s possible an Ofer Brothers ship took those agents back to Israel.  Again, this is speculation but based on known facts I’ve reported earlier.

What’s important about this is that these three countries are places in which the Mossad is very active (or wishes to be).  In Iran, the Mossad has participated in acts of terror against the regime including the assassination of five nuclear scientists.  Israel has also attacked Syria at least twice in the past four years, which required on the ground assistance from either agents or special forces who infiltrated the country in both cases.  Israel also assassinated Imad Mugniyeh and a Syrian general in the past few years.  Each would’ve required agents covertly operating on Syria territory.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has asked the Israeli government to remove the gag order in this case. It also posed several pressing questions about how it treated Ben Zygier after he was arrested. Among them, it asked on what basis Israel determined that Zygier had committed suicide and whether there was any evidence his death may’ve occured through other means. This is an allusion to rumors that he may’ve been murdered in prison by the authorities. Though I stress that these are rumors and not established facts.

ACRI also asks who was monitoring the prisoner and why they allowed him to kill himself? Which agency and specific personnel were responsible? What, if any actions were taken in the aftermath of his death? Regarding his detention by the Mossad/Shin Bet, what actions did they take to determine how Zygier was able to do the things he did which may’ve endangered Israel. Was there any internal review of the entire incident and what were the results of it?

In the national security state, questions are almost never answered transparently or publicly, but it’s important they be asked to hold officials responsible.

I spoke today with a representative of an Israeli human rights NGO and asked what he knew about any legal process that might’ve happened in Zygier’s case.  I’ve heard Channel 10′s chief political correspondent interviewed yesterday, saying there was none.  But this human rights officer said he couldn’t comment on the matter.  Which is exceedingly interesting.  It could mean, if Channel 10′s report is correct, that Zygier received no due process or trial, in which case Israel was had violated its own laws and rights of not just an Israeli citizen, but an Australian citizen.  This would involve grave implications for Australia-Israel relations.  Or it could mean Zygier received some sort of secret Israeli trial which again would be unprecedented under Israeli law.  The only other individual whose treatment parallels this was KGB spy, Marcus Klingberg, who I’ve mentioned in previous posts on this issue.

I just spoke to an Israeli human rights lawyer who believes that Zygier was likely afforded some very basis legal process, but that it is unprecedented for there to be a secret indictment, secret trial, and secret detention.  He also believes if that is the case, Zygier had to have an attorney.  Given what transpired I believe it’s unlikely an Israeli attorney would want to own up to the fact that his or her representation was so ineffective that his client despaired and killed himself.  I also believe it’s unprecedented for there to remain a gag order against discussing a case years after the defendant has died.

Yesterday, 28,000 people visited this site, one of the largest amounts of visitors ever seen here.  By noon today, I expect nearly 10,000 visitors.  Over 60% came from Israel, starving for information on this case of vital national importance.  It’s disturbing they couldn’t turn to their own press for original reporting.  The partial Israel gag allows only reporting on this story originating abroad.  Imagine you live in Paducah and there’s a corruption scandal involving the city council.  But the police chief tells your local paper it can’t report on the story.  Instead the only source of information you have will be a newspaper reporting from Toronto or Melbourne.  Make sense?  That’s Israel for you.

If you read Hebrew, the Israeli news portal Mako interviewed me yesterday.  Here’s the report.

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{ 41 comments… add one }

  • Giora Me'ir February 13, 2013, 10:47 AM

    How about, why was held in solitary confinement?

    • Fred February 14, 2013, 2:39 AM

      Yes, that’s the crucial point.
      I can’t believe that attempting (we do not know that he succeeded) to befriend Saudi and Iranian students was significant enough in any way to trigger his detention under such extraordinary conditions. If it was, then there must have been others over the years, for that’s a bread and butter intelligence activity.

    • Eden February 15, 2013, 10:42 AM

      The obvious explanation is that they did not want him to say what he knew to anyone. This was done with Vanunu in Israel and with Pollard in the US. In dictatorships, they don’t hold people like that in solitary confinement. they kill them when they catch them.

  • Ofek February 13, 2013, 11:37 AM

    There is a death penalty in Israel for treason. He could have been tried in a military court, which would not report to the Minister of Justice (Ne’eman), but to the minister of defense (Barak). It is more than possible that Israel executed him after a military trial.

    • Fred February 14, 2013, 2:41 AM

      Yes, it’s possible, but unless Israel has turned into North Korea, rather than attempting to turn into a mirror image of Iran, there would have to be some kind of STRONG reason for this, which certainly isn’t apparent in the above article.

    • shmuel February 15, 2013, 7:43 AM

      Wrong.
      There is no death penalty in Israel with two exceptions:
      1. Nazi war crimes = genocide, used only once for Eichmann
      2.In the occupied territories (not Israel) a military court can serve the death penalty for murder if the court consists of three judges all of whom have the rank of at least Lt-Col. This has never yet happened as the prosecution is under orders never to request, and usually the panel of judges is made up of at least one judge with the rank of major.

      There is no death penalty for treason, and a Palestinian is never tried for treason in the OT as he has no duty of loyalty to the State and is never considered a “traitor”

      If this “Mr X” was ececuted it was definately not as a result of a judicial ruling.

      • shmuel February 15, 2013, 7:48 AM

        Typo: executed

        A military court only tries residents of the OT

        The military court that used to try Israelis in Lod under the emergengy regulations has passed into disuse about 20 years ago after the emergency regulations were not renewed on a yearly basis as they used to be, and they were never even then allowed to pass a death sentence as this was repealed in the ’50s

  • Oui February 13, 2013, 1:32 PM

    Just keep repeating, “Israel is the greatest democracy”:
    Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On also questioned, “how can Israel in the 21st century put people in jail who die there without the public or elected officials knowing?” Interior Minister Eli Yishai responded to the comments saying that no country is as democratic as Israel. “We are democratic in all areas, and I’m proud of it.”

    The Jerusalem Post readers, when not bashing Obama policy, defend Israel’s policy on Prisoner ‘X’ by back slapping: “US offers torture, rendition and Gitmo for their captives.” A stain which will last for decades.

    • Eden February 14, 2013, 6:14 AM

      In a democracy, traitors are put in jail under a false name and the information is kept secret. Alternatively, a drone is sent to kill them and the people standing next to them by presidential order and with no judicial reviews. It is not pretty but this is where democracies are. Democracies have used in the past and continue to use terrible undemocratic methods when under attack.
      In non democratic countries, people are arrested, disappeared and often killed in secret simply for writing a comment on a blog like yours. I could insult Obama and an Israeli could insult Bibi in a blog and sleep in their home safely.
      MK Gal-on and Tibbi are free, speak their mind and will not disappear for doing so. It does not make Israel utopia but it qualifies it as a democratic country.

  • Meni Zehavi February 13, 2013, 1:49 PM

    According to this report (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/13/mossad-australian-spies-fairfax-katsoukis), Zygier was “working for a front company set up by Mossad in Europe selling electronic equipment to Iran and elsewhere.”
    The report indicates that Zygier was still free after the Mabhuh assassination.
    It’s strange that he visited Australia, enrolled there in the Monash U MBA program. was interrogated by ASIO, and then returned to Israel. Maybe he was trapped and his family in Israel were used as proxies to that end.

  • Mister X February 13, 2013, 5:26 PM

    Like pretty much everyone else, you don’t really know anything about this case – you know what’s been in the original ABC report and what has since appeared in the Israeli media. And yet you confidently state: “The claim by the State that Zygier was afforded all rights due to him as a citizen and that all legal proceedings were proper seems either laughable on its face or an outright lie.” How do you know that? You yourself tweeted that the day before he died he met with Avigdor Feldman, one of the most prominent defense lawyers in Israel. It is now known that he had three lawyers defending him, and Ynet has a photo of the first page of a court transcript with a case number (8493-03-10) and the names of three judges who, so it would seem, sat in his trial. (In case you don’t know – there is never a panel of three in pretrial criminal proceedings in Israel, so we are talking here of a transcript from the actual trial.)

    There is much that is mysterious in this affair (and not just what Zygier did that got the Israeli government so angry, but also things like how he managed to commit suicide, if indeed this is what it was). Quite possibly Israel has not been saintly here. But if you want to be taken seriously as a reliable source of information, a unfounded knee-jerk reaction that assumes the worst on the part of Israel is not the way to do it. I would recommend limiting yourself to what you know and avoiding wishful thinking (Eretz Nehederet in the Knesset) or unfounded guesses (abducted Iraqi generals).

  • Miriam S February 13, 2013, 7:25 PM

    He is likely to have known something disturbing and his so-called “mental imbalance” might have been a struggle with his conscience. Australians have a very different attitude to the Israelis and Americans … most of us being descended from the victims of war rather than the perpetrators. Make of that what you will. RIP Ben.

    • Yanshuf February 14, 2013, 1:05 AM

      A significant number of Israelis are decendants of war victims.

      • marc b. February 14, 2013, 8:52 AM

        “A significant number of Israelis are decendants of war victims.”

        as are citizens of every country in eastern europe.

      • chris February 14, 2013, 12:07 PM

        As are a significant number of Palestinians. The only good that can come from suffering, is if one learns to respect life, all creatures and see our common humanity. To not do any harm to others. To want for others what you want for yourself. Those who claim a monopoly on victimhood and suffering are deluded, especially when it’s clear that they think this gives them license to kill/ immunity to commit crimes against others who were not the original authors of crimes against them.. People commit crimes against other people…. People have the right to demand justice and restitution from those who trespassed against them; they do not have the right to perpetrate crimes against another unrelated persons or covert their property thinking this is their right…
        Whatever this Australian did for Mossad and the country he adopted and believed in, does not sound clean. Deception, betrayal , plotting and violence to others I would say goes with the type of job he seems to have had… anyone with a conscience and/or capable of independent thought would at some point begin to question allegiance to a cause or group which perpetrates crimes or even actions which may be counter-productive or dead end [like setting fires around the entire neighbourhood, more fires than you have fire extinguishers]. Blow back /pay back/ karma , call it what you like, will happen at some point…and all the plotting and planning will have been for nothing… Perhaps he developed a conscience…. perhaps he had a nervous breakdown….we can only speculate.

  • Yanshuf February 14, 2013, 1:00 AM

    The Aussie government has acknowledged that they were informed on his detention in2010.

    The government asked that be afforded all rights as he was an Austraoian citizen.

    Israel replied that he will receive all rights that are do to a Israeli citizen under Israeli law.

    From what has been reported he served in the IDF was wounded and at some point he returned to Australia to get a law degree.

    He returned to Israel. To e recognized as a lawyer in Israel he needed to a clerkship and pass theIstaeli Bar Exam. The fact he did the clerkship in Yaakov Neemans law firm is meaningless. Clerkships in Israel are something like slavery and don’t as a rule get anywhere near a principle in a exceedingly large law firm in Israel.

    There really is nothing new in this story except for the incarceration,arrest apparent trial,and his suicide.
    Have no doubt these are important. But the recruitment of immigrants to the Mossad is very stale news. Intelligence agencies establishing front companies is old news. The US of the passports of immigrants goes back to the 1970s. In a raid in Beirut one of the agents left behind the passportof an American immigrant.
    The immigrant lived with his family on kibbutz Tirat Tzvi. The government gathered them up and had them in hiding for awhile.

    Several months ago I read an article about humint intelligence gathering and the problems that biometric passports will create. Can’t really borrow someone’s passport if his fingerprints and a picture of his cornea is embeded.

    The only story here is the end. What law did he break,information about his trial and sentence.
    Those who needed to know about his detention knew. His wife,family in Australia and the Australian government. Maybe they were not informed the day he was detained but what I ave read the Austrailian government was informed early in his detention.

    As to not having a attorney known for human rights issues and you may argue with me but issues of human rights were the last of his problems. Israel does have the death penalty on the books for treason, murder and for people involved in perpetrating the holocaust.

    Yakkov Neeman had to lie in the Knesset. When he was asked the question the information was not authorized for public disemination. Also we can be lawyers and since they didn’t give totally specific information you can say no such person

    . On the legal papers that have been published he was not referred to as Prisoner X nor John Doe but rather a term that as far as I know goes back at least 1600 years, Ploni Almoni.

    As to the suicide, it is tragic. That he was in a high tech facility equipped with latest monitors etc. That only works if the guards were attentive. Staring at a person in a room for a whole hour can make somebody nuts.
    As Israel is not a overly disciplined country I don’t doubt that guards just ignored there duty. It is far more realistic then any conspiracy theory. Simply becaue Israel could have stayed with the story he wad lost in action. And there wd no garuntee that the family would insist on another autopsy in Australia.

    We likely will never know what his crime was. And that’s ok. There are manytings that are not our business.

    BTW disclosing the identity of US Federal undercover agent I.e.CIA operative is a federal felony.
    They even made a movie about the story.

  • Peleg February 14, 2013, 2:28 AM

    There are a couple of things that need to be cleared up:
    1. Yes, there is a death penalty for treason, however it has only been used once in 1949 (Eichman’s execution was a different matter) and it was more of a murder under a guise of trial. More than that, the law only allows the death penalty for treason in times of hostile MILITARY action and it would seem that the threat of death was not over his head. He was probably, if indeed his alleged crime was treason, looking at a rather long prison term (20+ years).

    2. The fact is that Israel is a sloppy place, it would be much more likely that he has killed himself with the guards either sleeping at the table or chasing the female correction officers than him being murdered by state agents while in jail. No amount of technology can help if the human factor fails in his job, the isolation only makes it easier. If someone wanted him dead, there are much cleaner methods that would not raise any suspicion.

    If indeed his family was notified of his arrest and he had legal representation (I have no reason to suspect he didn’t have it – the power of lawyers in the security apparatus being so strong these days) then the mere fact of a gag order prohibiting the reporting of the case isn’t that much a deal.
    The family reaction is also rather strange, if he was innocent or being framed then I’d expect them to raise some noise over the issue, a good reason for their reaction may be that they rather have it left alone and not tarnish his name.
    What was wrong in this case is the handling of the case once it has been brought to light.

    The questions that need to be answered in this case, as it is now in the public light are:
    1. What was the alleged crime?
    2. Was the gag order approved by the supreme court as was hinted by the chief military censor today?
    3. What are the conclusions of the investigation into his suicide?

  • Eddie February 14, 2013, 3:28 AM

    You claim that the firm representing Zieger was not interested in Human Rights cases. You are mistaken.

    Avigdor Feldman is the founder of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) as well as a founding member of the “The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem)”. ( wikipedia).

    Feldman also represented other cases such as Vanunu.

    • Richard Silverstein February 15, 2013, 1:20 AM

      Feldman wasn’t Zygier’s attorney. He was asked by Zygier’s wife to render a 2nd opinion on the plea bargain the government offered him. His three lawyers were not human rights lawyers. They were criminal defense lawyers. They have excellent credentials with the security apparatus and often represent security officials & agents. But whistleblowers or defendants in need of help defending their human rights? Hardly.

  • Mike February 14, 2013, 4:11 AM

    One thought that came to me, and perhaps a bit left of field in the murky world: could he have been working for the Australian Security Intelligence Service [ASIS], http://www.asis.gov.au, a very shadowy organisation that you do not hear much about, except for the occasional mention in Hansard? Could he have passed on information to them?

    • Terence March 9, 2013, 11:11 PM

      Mike , more likely he was working for KAOS as the handling of this affair by Israel has all the hallmarks of Maxwell Smart ; from the Australian perspective the most damaging thing is the way our passports have been compromised on more than one occasion by Mossad making it dangerous for bona fide Australian citizens to travel in the Middle East.
      Incidentally, I had understood that Zygier had been offered a plea bargain which, if accepted, would have attracted a custodial sentence in “single digits” added to which his wife had just given birth to a second child; why would he be suicidal ?

      • Richard Silverstein March 9, 2013, 11:58 PM

        No, the sentence would’ve been 20 years. Though it might’ve been negotiated down from there. He certainly faced years in prison. I’d guess something like 10 or more.

  • Alex February 14, 2013, 5:42 AM

    Oh, how convenient is to filter negative reactions to your delirium :). What a perfect sample of the “freedom of speech” you are standing for, dear Richard the 100th :).

  • Ido February 14, 2013, 6:01 AM

    Hi Richard,
    Avigdor Feldman, a well known and well respected human rights lawyer shared the fact that he was his lawyer a short time before he died.
    in an interview today he said that had a meeting with Ben Zygier a day before his death and he couldn’t see any signs of stress or suicidal thoughts. Another fact is that Israel brought him in front of a judge to approve his arrest and allowed him to meet his family. As an Israeli, I am not happy with what has happened but it seems that it is less severe than what we all thought yesterday.

    • Richard Silverstein February 15, 2013, 1:17 AM

      Avigdor Feldman himself & Michael Sfard have decried the way Zygier was handled by the Israeli justice system & multiple columnists & reporters are deriding the judges in this case for being a rubber stamp for security & tyranny. BUt it’s all kosher by you. Right…

      • Ido February 15, 2013, 2:20 AM

        Hi Richard,
        I didn’t say I am happy with how the system handled this case. Not at all, however, two days ago we all thought that our state made him disappear without telling anyone, now we know that he was brought in front of 3 judges, he had 3 lawyers, his family meat him and he agreed to be arrested under a different name. Not perfect, but completely different than what I thought about this case 2 days ago

        • Richard Silverstein February 16, 2013, 2:35 AM

          @Ido: No you don’t know those things at all. Again, these are the things your leaders told you. The same leaders who kept you in the dark for three years about the fate of this man. There were three judges, yes. Did they do their jobs? Did they ensure their was due process? No. He had three lawyers, yes. But did they do a good job when their client died in prison? What did they do after he died to demand accountability for his death? Very little. The family met him? Maybe. But when and how often? He agreed to be arrested under a fictitious name? Are you daft? Who says? Your fahrstunteh leaders who got themselves into this mess in the first place. I’m sorry to say the likes of you have the leaders you deserve.

  • Curious and Curioser February 14, 2013, 6:17 AM

    The Australian ‘Lateline’ interview tonight with former Fairfax journalist Jason Koutsoukis yielded that Zygier had been contacted multiple times in December and even a pre-arranged meeting in January 2010, all of which had been mysteriously indulged by Zygier rather than denied and terminated as other accused spies had done. I don’t think Zygier was involved in the Mabhouh case, but here is Zygier meeting with an Australian journalist while Mossad are in the middle of using Australian Passports for Mabhouh. It would only require Zygier to have not told his seniors about what appears to be 5-6 phone calls and meeting/s for them to need to protect the Mabhouh operation. ASIO had already been investigating Israel’s misuse of Australian Passports prior to Mabhouh. There was never going to be an easy time for Israel to admit their misdealings amidst the Dubai scandal. One of Zygier’s lawyers also said that charges were not on the high end of gravity, which I accept as likely.

    I think he was an inconvenience at a highly sensitive time surrounding the Mabhouh operation. Diplomatic tensions regarding false passports at that time would have absolutely jeopardized Dubai. Cooperation between Canada, Britain and Australia on passport abuse can be expected to be pretty high.

  • IsraeliPolitics101 February 14, 2013, 7:53 AM

    According to Maco, Zygier met with Avigdor Feldman, one of the elite lawyers of Israel, as a preperation for his trial.
    http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=958372

    Feldman tells there that he was surprised by the suicide.

  • Joel February 14, 2013, 8:55 AM

    Maybe he smuggled a suicide pill into his cell. He was a Mossadnik after all.

    • Eden February 15, 2013, 2:44 PM

      And he fooled the Mossad using a Mossad ‘s method by hiding a suicide pill for 10 months? How likely is that?

  • Oui February 14, 2013, 9:40 AM

    According to Avigdor Feldman.
    Ben Zygier, a Mossad agent suspected of treason …
    held in solitary confinement for months;
    was deeply stressed about the legal proceedings;
    already had (3) lawyers [Ro’i Belcher, Moshe Mazur and Boaz Ben-Tzur];
    had been charged but the case had not come to court;
    was “at a legal crossroads”;
    still sought out Feldman’s advice about plea bargain;
    met with Feldman two days before death;
    insisted upon his innocence;
    appeared balanced and self-possessed;
    during negotiations with senior state prosecutors had been threatened with lengthy imprisonment, and would be ostracized by his family.

    Plenty of misinformation put out by the media today, see Kuwaiti daily: Zygier betrayed Mossad to Dubai .

  • Ron Leads February 14, 2013, 10:45 AM

    Hebrew readers: a very important commentary of Haaretz’s Uri Misgav can be read here: http://blogs.haaretz.co.il/urimisgav/357/

    He has inside information, which sheds a very interesting light on the whole affair.

  • Meni Zehavi February 14, 2013, 12:06 PM

    Yes. One of the things Misgav writes is that Zygier committed suicide (Dec. 15, 2010) four days after the birth of his second daughter.
    It is distinctly possible that some people in the Israeli secret services, interested to move Zygier to suicide, played on him one of the oldest tricks in the book, “demonstrating” to him in some way that he was not the girl’s real father.
    This whole affair cries out for an investigation committee, ideally to be manned by members of both Israeli and Australian judiciary.
    In Israel there are very few politicians who would be able to demand the creation of such a committee. Maybe the Australian govt. will have more audacity.

  • Eden February 14, 2013, 12:40 PM

    Richard “That’s Israel for you.” is a bit unfair as it implies Israel is unique in this.
    Do you believe that there is one country in the world that does not do what Israel does?
    By this I mean is there one country which in war time would not disappear or even kill a citizen that is perceived to be a threat to national security? Extra-judicial imprisonments and killings occur everywhere. Your focus on Israel makes no sense given how your own govt operates. Would it have been better for Israel to send a drone and kill this guy?
    As far as freedom of the press. The US agreed for years not to even publish a picture of body bags. News is being suppressed not only because it could endanger national security but also because it hurt the moral and keep people from wanting to shop more.

    So I will agree with you this is Israel today. I will simply add that this is how it is in democracies today. Just imagine how it is in non democracies!! You should try it as I have. It is amazing to live in a place where saying a word can make you disappear as if you were a threat to national security in a democracy.

  • Curious and Curiouser February 14, 2013, 7:59 PM

    NYTimes is reporting that:

    “Al Jarida, a liberal opposition newspaper, said that Mr. Zygier had provided the authorities in Dubai with “names and pictures and accurate details” in exchange for protection, but Israel kidnapped him from a hiding place and imprisoned him on charges of treason about a month after the Jan. 19, 2010, operation. ”

    Wow! If this is true, that he was part of and blabbed on the Dubai operation, this really is getting interesting, well, even more interesting.

    The recent million dollar hush money payoff to the family currently being reported explains their complete silience on the matter.

    • Richard Silverstein February 15, 2013, 1:10 AM

      @ Curious: Where did you read about the payment to the family?

    • Fred Plester February 15, 2013, 3:40 AM

      They usually seem to whip up a mob from the local Jewish community to bully families to silence: “stuffing their mouths with gold” is Nye Bevan not Mossad.

  • BruceT February 14, 2013, 9:23 PM

    ” The claim by the State that Zygier was afforded all rights due to him as a citizen and that all legal proceedings were proper seems either laughable on its face or an outright lie” Huh? Why?

  • Meni Zehavi February 14, 2013, 11:18 PM

    More information about Zieger’s detention and the Australian government’s questionable (to say the least) behavior in his case can be found here:
    http://www.theage.com.au/national/zygier-close-to-spilling-on-israel-20130214-2eg0l.html

    Note that according to this report, ASIO was informed of his arrest on Feb. 24, 2010.

  • BorisG February 15, 2013, 9:44 AM

    Lot’s of interesting speculation and righteousness, but very few facts. Even the most basic thing, that he was a Mossad agent. Everyone is repeating this as if this is a fact. But what if not? What if he worked for Ofer brothes and the mafia? Or maybe he was an ASIO agent to begin with?

    Of all speculations upon speculation, I’d argue the most incredible is a suggestion that he decided to reveal some info out of pity for the asssinated senior Hamas military figure. Give me a break please.

    Feldman specifically said that Ben was accused of grave crimes. Grave. I don’t think accidentally revealing some info to a journalist or telling ASIO open secrets about the use of Australian passports quite qalifies as grave crimes. Remember this is Feldman talking, not some government official. Nor is this is a sufficiently good reason for extraordinary secrecy. Why was he imprisoned under a false name? I don’t think anyone has yet even suggested a sensible reason.

    BTW the scandal surrounding Mabuhuh assassination was a storm in teacup. Not a big deal, especially after the fact, since details are already public. Export to Iran is potentially something a lot more serious. That could have compromised a massive and crucial oprtation. But then again, it was after it had been revealed anyway…

    A former security guy told ABC we will likely never know. But now that the gene is out… it seems like too many people know: 4 lawyers, 3 judges, surely a number of present and former Israeli government officials, Aus officials, family, friends… Yes some of these people are under restrictions, but it is hard to keep the lid once it is known to people outside the security apparatus. Mosad/Shabak are also compelled to answer some questions. Many things will come out, but not all.

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