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Shin Bet Kept Zygier’s Wife Under Surveillance Long After His Death

Ben ZYgier passport

One of Ben Zygier’s multiple Australian identities

Walla reports (Hebrew) that Israel’s security service devised an elaborate cover story for Ben Zygier’s widow to explain his absence to her neighbors after he was arrested.  She told them that he’d contracted cancer and had flown back to his native Australia for treatment.  After his death, she told them that he’d died of the illness.  This indicates either she was forced to adhere to this story or else she willingly did so.

The neighbors, themselves working in the security service, noted something not quite normal due to the fact that the widow was afforded security protection for a long period.  That’s not what I would call it.  I’d say the Shin Bet had pressured her to adhere to this cover story and put her under surveillance to ensure she would not do anything to endanger the agency and expose this scandal.

What’s interesting about this is that the Shin Bet devised a similar lie they fed to the family of KGB spy, Marcus Klingberg, telling them he’d had a severe mental breakdown and was in isolation in a psychiatric hospital.  The ironic difference is that the Shabak gave Zygier a fatal dose of cancer while Klingberg managed to recover from his Shabak-induced breakdown and live.  It also occurs to an Israeli friend that giving him cancer as a cover story to explain his arrest could allow the Shabak to make his illness “terminal” should it need to “terminate” him.

There is another element in the Walla report I find deeply troubling.  It quotes a “senior justice source” associated with justice affairs (who my source identifies as Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein) issuing the following almost farcical statement:

Even in the future should we believe the security of the State demanded it we would act in the same way [as we did in the Zygier case].  He rejected the claim that there are Prisoner Xs in Israel.

“This isn’t a dictatorship.  This isn’t Argentina.  This isn’t a THird World country in which people disappear or that they’re imprisoned without anyone knowing who they are.  THere is no such thing in Israel.  It never was and never will be.”

He claimed there were a few unusual incidents in which for clear security reasons suspects were held under fictitious names.  In some instances he said it was because publication of the name might damage state security and in other endanger the prisoner or his family.  He further claimed that Zygier was given a fictitious name with his consent.  Despite this, such a prisoner has the same rights as a normal prisoner: visits from his lawyer, his family receives immediate notification of his detention, he is entitled to visits and even to appeal his detention.

Zygier was prohibited from meeting his lawyer for the first three weeks of his detention as is permitted under Israeli law when the attorney general and district court judge certify it.

It seems Weinstein is pre-empting criticism of his role.  He even manages to drag Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch into the mix by claiming that she was overseeing the circumstances of Zygier’s imprisonment.  That’s ludicrous.  If you were an Israeli Supreme Court justice you’d want to know nothing about this case because security cases like this are absolute poison.  You know that they prostitute justice, but you also know that you can’t overturn them without upsetting the huge apple cart that is the security apparatus.

I find it insulting to the point of outrage that Weinstein claims both that Zygier agreed to the treatment afforded him and that it was done to protect him and his family: from whom?  Enraged Shin Bet agents?  Or Iranian or Australian security services?  Were they out to get him?  Or was perhaps the Mossad and Shabak leadership who he’d either betrayed or let down far more likely to have wanted to see him harmed?

Trevor Borman, who produced the original TV documentary that blew open the Zygier case, has a new report which says that Zygier had been cooperating with Australian intelligence in exposing Mossad operations both in Australia and in Italy, where it had created a commercial front company selling computer and electronic gear to Iran and other Arab states.  He’d been arrested and detained by Australian intelligence for an extensive period in 2009.  When he returned to Israel he was arrested there.  If this is true, it makes Australia’s abandonment of him all the more tragic and inexcusable.  It also makes Israel’s disappearance of him for a relatively small offense incomprehensible.  Was Ben Zygier’s crime so severe that it merited the severity of the State’s treatment?  Was it so severe that it justified the prostitution of the judicial system, which permitted this travesty?  Will neither the justice minister nor attorney general nor Mossad nor Shabak chiefs have to answer for their egregious overreaching in this matter?

If Borman’s account turns out to be true, this will serve as yet another example of the Israeli national security state trampling on the lives of its citizens.  While it’s understandable that Mossad would be angered by Zygier’s cooperation with ASIO, it’s not like he betrayed Israeli secrets to Iran, an Arab state, China or Russia.  Australia is at least nominally an Israeli ally.  Was it really worth taking a man’s life (or allowing that man to take his own) as punishment for such a crime?  I also can’t help thinking about this poor Australian Jew, son of one of the nation’s Jewish leaders, who makes aliyah and dreams of serving his adopted country in its intelligence service–all as part of his Zionist vision.  Think of him as he puts that rope around his head.  What is he thinking?  What’s happened to that Zionist dream?  How could it come to this both for him and for the State of Israel?

On a related subject, I just read a tweet from an Australian who pointed out that until 2004 Australia did not permit dual nationality.  Since Zygier made aliyah and presumably took Israeli citizenship in 2002, he could not have remained an Australian citizen (unless it didn’t revoke his citizenship, which would’ve been a grave error in his case).  The implication of this is that both Zygier and the Mossad were violating Australian law when they sent him back to Australia three different times to change his name legally and obtain a new passport.  Under Australian law (at least until 2004) that would’ve been illegal.  I don’t know the law well enough to say whether after it was changed he would’ve been entitled to dual nationality (making his passport applications legal).  But he certainly would’ve had to have reapplied for Australian citizenship (unless there was a grandfather provision for those forced to renounce their Australian citizenship), which he doesn’t appear to have done.

{ 66 comments… add one }
  • mary February 18, 2013, 3:11 AM

    Richard, I’m still thinking that Zygier had something very significant to do with the passports that were used by the Mossad agents in their assassination of Mohammed Mamdouh. Either he was involved in the procurement of those passports or found out later that they had been used, but I suspect he was about to blow the whistle and thereby uncover a possibly massive international network of sayanim or whoever, who regularly play a part in this whole messy clandestine spying and murdering venture. This looks to me that Israel’s habit of playing fast and loose with international laws is about to bite it in the ass.

    • Nimrod February 18, 2013, 3:23 AM

      Israeli news mentioned that he leaked out information about a large operation that was planned to take place in Italy to the Australian service.

    • Curious and Curioser February 18, 2013, 5:21 AM

      I disagree, as the (often fake) passports used by the Dubai 26 were unwitting real Israeli residents with clean international records pawned by Israel for state duties. Ben was the opposite, genuine passport(s) with frequent name changes and under surveilence for such. I would expect ASIO to have cooperated with Interpol regarding names and aliases already by the time of Dubai. Zygier was certainly capable of shining the spotlight on passport abuse at precisely the time of the assassination even if he was not directly involved. He was having his encounter with the Fairfax journalist a matter of weeks prior to the al-Mabouh operation. It’s very hard to know how Australia would even ultimately react to passport abuse at that time, other than further inaction. They didn’t publicly act until Dubai authorities forced their hand, but former Foreign Minister Downer said it was going on in ’95. 15 years, no action.

  • J-J February 18, 2013, 4:07 AM

    Basically, once all this will get cleared. This should be a story of a somebody who chose for himself a very risky job, and ended up himself and his family in a grave situtation. Technically speaking, he took the risk on himself (as any other espionage agency worker) that his weaknesses may be abused by whoever carries the interest at a particular moment. From a moral point of view the people who are involved in the decision making of his case are clearly not conscious orientated (isn’t it an axiom for security agency workers), this includes all the chain of people who had anything to do with with the case: prisoner guards, ambulance people, forensics, agents, his family. From a state / organizational point of view this is a case of exposing, routine non-public protocol of communication and information exchange between state organizations.
    Conclusion: This unfortunate person ended up as a victim of his own choices, 2 state organizations taking advantage of him, and victim of a motivated journalist exposing him in Australia in the first place.

    • ToivoS February 18, 2013, 6:48 PM

      Yep JJ Zygier was a free agent and he ended up as a victim of his own choices. But he was encouraged in that direction by his community in Australia and his own family. They rewarded his actions by considering him a hero. I do hope that this community has learned a lesson and stop encouraging their sons to sacrifice themselves pursuing the Zionist dream in Israel.

      • Shoded Yam February 20, 2013, 7:49 AM

        Well put sir.

  • Eric February 18, 2013, 7:37 AM

    From media reports to date, it now appears Zygier may have leaked some information to ASIS about an operation crucial to Israel’s efforts to undermine the Iranian nuclear program. Zygier may not have realised the damage he was causing and may have been thinking he was merely sharing some info with a friendly service.

  • Joel February 18, 2013, 8:30 AM

    According to Yediot’s Ron Ben Yishai, the ASIO may have ‘burned’ Zygier and thereby contributed to his decision to commit suicide. link to ynetnews.com

    It’s also been reported that Zygier had disclosed info on Mossad operations to the ASIO.

    The more of this story comes out, the better Israel looks.

    • Richard Silverstein February 18, 2013, 6:19 PM

      @Joel: “Better?” Surely you jest. Israel drove an Israeli citizen to suicide merely because he had talks with Australian intelligence. And this makes Israel look good? You are one warped, twisted dude.

      • Joel February 18, 2013, 10:50 PM

        Richard said:

        “Israel drove an Israeli citizen to suicide merely because he had talks with Australian intelligence.”

        “Most infuriating is the fact that people who worked for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) purposely got the Mossad operative in hot water and indirectly contributed to his decision to commit suicide. “–Ynetnews

        Apparently, Zygier was arrested after leaking Mossad work to ASIO.

        link to abc.net.au

        Lastly, Zygier received legal representation from Israel’s best criminal defense attorney and psychological care as well.
        link to jpost.com

        Richard said: “And this makes Israel look good? You are one warped, twisted dude.”

        Shoot the messenger, why don’t you?

        • Richard Silverstein February 18, 2013, 11:48 PM

          Zygier’s three main lawyers are known for criminal defense work & representing security officials. They are not know for negotiating plea deals for Mossad agents or defending whistleblowers. Avigdor Feldmand was NOT his main attorney and was brought in by Zygier’s wife to vet a plea bargain. That was the extent of his involvement. Zygier’s legal representation by those three lawyers was pathetic. Good lawyers don’t let their clients die in custody. It’s a dark stain against them that this happened.

          I read about the fairy tale nonsense that Zygier had the very best mental health professional the Prison Service could buy. That and a few bucks will buy you a cappuccino at Starbucks. “Mental health professionals?” You think the prison system has mental health professionals for security suspects? I’d challenge you to find any proof that any such person ever visited Zygier. I mean real proof, not some minister trying to cover his ass with perfume & lilacs that smell like the dreck they are.

          What mystifies me about Israelis is that they’re so completely gullible & believe (or want to believe) every lie issuing forth fr the mouths of their leaders when any sane, reasonable person could see from miles away that it’s a crock of crap.

          • Joel February 19, 2013, 1:15 AM

            Notwithstanding the extraordinary security precautions that were put in place here, please show us an instance were Zygier didn’t receive due process?

          • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2013, 11:25 AM

            He was kept in prison without any indictment being filed against him or trial. No one knows what the charges, if any, were. He was kept in isolation against all precedent in such cases. His family was pressured to tell a concocted story about his whereabouts. He was not offered the right to see the evidence against him other than what his interrogators told him.

            Finally, do you think a 34 yr old man with 2 little girls & everything to live for (aside from his imprisonment) who kills himself has been given due process?

            I could go on and on. THis was not due process. This was trial by secret police suitable for the NKVD & the old Soviet Union.

          • Joel February 19, 2013, 12:34 PM

            Obviously Zygier was indicted. If his lawyers weren’t informed of the charges against Zygier, than lawyer and client wouldn’t have anything to discuss beyond the weather. Zyglier’s last lawyer knew exactly what Zygier was charged with because he’s already told us they he can’t discuss the charges with the press. Maybe Ziegler was not indicted as quickly as he’d have liked, but that’s not denial of due process, that’s due process delayed. Maybe.

            Isolation and concocted stories don’t mean denial of due process.

            “He was not offered the right to see the evidence against him other than what his interrogators told him.”

            Not all jurisdictions require full and automatic disclosure of government evidence. Many defendants have rejected plea bargains based on their perception of the state’s evidence, only to go to trial and discover that the evidence was much more convincing.
            But more to the point, the disclosure of evidence, or ‘Discovery’, is an ongoing process involving lawyers and judges.

            In the real world, most government lawyers don’t want a trial. They’d rather bury the defendant with all the government’s ‘evidence’ in order to force the defendant into a plea agreement and I’d bet that’s exactly what the government did here.

          • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2013, 6:01 PM

            Of course he was indicted? Wait a second. You think I’m going to take your or anyone’s word for something like that? It is common practice for indictments to be accessible. I’ve heard of no indictment so I’m not prepared to concede anything regarding this case.

            Imprisoning someone for eight months without bringing them to trial and refusing to allow them bail is denial of due process. Isolation does indeed mean denial of due process. And I’m sorry but I’m not prepared to accept the standards of “justice” or “due process” for Israeli security detainees. A detainee who cannot see the evidence against him has been denied due process–full stop. This is a basic, elemental basis of justice in democracies. If you want to deny a prisoner this right then you no longer are a democracy.

            Almost no security detainees go to trial. Those few who do don’t discover the evidence against them is convincing because they don’t see the evidence against them. What they do see is that the government convicts them pro forma. They don’t stand a chance. That’s why everyone accepts a plea deal. This is not justice. It’s kangaroo justice.

          • dana February 19, 2013, 9:50 PM

            Richard, “imprisoning someone for eight months”? why eight? I am counting between 91/2 to ten months.

            I know there’s some hoopla going on in Israel’s blogoshere about the date of his arrest, and that’s because his wife, Maya, was reputed to give birth 4 days before his death (according to Freedman). So if the Australian sources and Bob Carr are right (arrested BEFORE February 24) then yes, we have a problem. So the new story (propagated first by prodigious tweitter Yehuda Bello link to twitter.com whose name pops up near the top in google hebrew) is that he was first remanded to “house arrest” on March 4 (already in conflict with february 24), then carted off to prison march 10. Bingo, pregnancy mystery solved. Bello claims to have heard that from private “sources”.

            I have seen references (only from israel) to 8 months and 9 months arrest period. But all these are coming from totally uncorroborated sources. The Australians are sticking to notification of arrest prior to Feb 24. So, what do you make of this little controversy?

            PS Ben Zygier’s wife’s name is a very common knowledge in israel. It’s just about on every facebook and twitter that talks about the case. Sorry for blurting but Hebrew is not like sanscrit – yet – it’s still a live language so I am not sure why we need to hide what is in the open.

            PPS Bello’s twitter makes for fascinating read. He does seem to be interested in finding the “truth” but like all israelis, he is doing a bit of “kangaroo-washing”, ie, his loyalties and Australian interests do not quite jibe…..hence his willingness to brush aside whatever ASIO or ASIS are saying.

          • Joel February 19, 2013, 10:03 PM

            ‘An indictment had been filed against him that hadn’t gotten to the trial stage’. –http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/zygier-was-negotiating-plea-bargain-before-he-died-in-jail-says-his-israeli-lawyer.premium-1.503516

            As regards to the denial of bail, United States Federal law allows for pre-trial detention of individuals based upon their danger to the community or if they are deemed a flight risk.

            As regards the right to a speedy trial, in the United States anyway, a delay of at least one year in bringing a defendant to trial following arrest will trigger a presumption that the Sixth Amendment has been violated. A longer delay may be deemed constitutional, however, and a shorter delay may be deemed unconstitutional, depending on the circumstances.

            Zygier had been imprisoned for 10 months and his case was already at the trial stage.

          • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2013, 10:07 PM

            Federal law allows for pre-trial detention of individuals

            Not for eight months. Further, he wasn’t a danger to himself or others, nor a flight risk since he wouldn’t be able to leave Israel under the Shabak’s watchful eye.

            Zygier’s case was not in the trial phase as far as I’ve ever heard. Where is your proof?

          • Joel February 19, 2013, 10:35 PM

            Yedioth Ahronoth had reported that Zygier’s lawyers struck a plea bargain with Israeli authorities days before he committed suicide. The deal they reached would have put the Mossad agent behind bars for between 10 to 20 years. Zygier’s last attorney, Avigdor Feldman, had been asked to assess that deal.

            Criminal ‘plea agreements’, or in civil matters, ‘settlements’, usually occur right before a trial.

          • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2013, 1:17 AM

            I guess Zygier made his own statement about what he thought of the plea deal. He realized it was either 20 yrs in prison or life if he refused the deal. Neither option was very appealing. Is this the justice system you’re defending? One that takes a naive Australian Jew, recruits him for Mossad mainly because he possesses a valuable passport, then turns him into Alfred Dreyfuss when things don’t go so well for Mossad, resulting in his death or suicide? You’re proud of THIS system?

            Please don’t answer if you intend to defend this abortion of justice. This case makes me sick enough as is without reading pathetic attempts to turn it into something defensible.

          • Oui February 20, 2013, 3:26 AM

            Mr. Silverstein,

            It isn’t …
            The Mavi Marmara
            Nor ..
            Dubai assassination
            Or .
            Contact with ASIO

            Bibi suggests Ben Zygier was spilling information about top secret Mossad operations.

            Credible? Act of treason to the Iranians? Or is it knowledge Zygier gained about the Hariri assassination and its facilitation by Mossad telecom spy network? It must be of a gravity similar to Vanunu.

          • Yanshuf February 20, 2013, 12:34 PM

            People are held without bail for trial all the time in the United States.

          • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2013, 8:20 PM

            Not for eight months. Not incommunicado. Not in secret.

          • Yanshuf February 20, 2013, 6:45 PM

            Links were provided on this blog to YNET. The article mentions two appearances by Zygier before the panel of 3 judges that were assigned this case.

          • Yanshuf February 20, 2013, 7:03 PM


            If I were in prison facing a long sentence even if I plead guilty it would provide great comfort to know I had a loving wife and children on the outside. The birth of a new daughter would give me more of a push to see this through.

            But,if I suspected my wife cheated on me and the new daughter was not mine, well not sure how I would feel about that.

            All of the original dates and timing that were leaked would clearly indicate a extra marital relationship produced the latest daughter. And he committed suicide 4 days later.

            It could be that people are either telling the truth with the new dates or there is a concerted effort to cover up the dates so that no questions will remain concerning a extra marital affair that may have led to his suicide.

            Also if the second daughter were in fact conceived during the course of a affair it would cause the daughter very significant personal problems because of her Jewish religious status of a mamzeret.

          • Tom Holloway February 21, 2013, 9:35 AM

            Yanshuf, your attempts to impugn Zygier’s wife or to blame her for his alleged “suicide” (murder by the Mossad more like) show just how unspeakably low you habarists are ready to stoop.

          • dana February 21, 2013, 1:29 PM

            Yanshuf, I thought of that possibility, obviously. I am not sure that the possibility of extra-marital conception would be enough for a suicide. He must have known for a while that his wife was pregnant though conceivably not how far along she was. His wife cared enough to get Feldman involved (for a second opinion, they say), who may or may not have been the one to bring news of the daughter born.

            Yes, a sentence of 10-20 years (note the wide spread!) seems like a lot, but people are released early all the time and in a regular prison, Zygier would have had chances to meet with family and perhaps, in due course, after a little pressure from Australia’s pre-eminent jewish community, have a retrial and/or early release. There are clear indications from Feldman’s comments that Zygier was keen on clearing his name – which is great motivation to bear with it and keep on living – certainly for the sake of his family, if not his own.

            If anything, he would have also wanted to resolve things with the wife, have a chance to explain his side of things to her,find out what happened while he was in isolation, and stay in the picture for his daughter(s) as best he could. All in all, psychologically, based on what we know, it doesn’t add up to a suicide.

            Chances are he was killed – the tranquilizer traces in his system and those “bruises” are your hint. The story of “hanging himself from a bar with bed sheets’ is nonsensical. That is no minor matter to suffocate to death like that. It would take an iron resolve and one kind of doubts he was that tough.

            Why was he killed at that time? again, chances are it would have something to do with Feldman’s visit a day or two earlier. Perhaps it empowered him to refuse the plea deal and one of his interrogators went a bit overboard with the truth serum, necessitating a cover-up. Accidental death during interrogation or over-administration of a drug is the most likely explanation. I reckon his death was judged rather “inconvenient” for Mossad, so kind of doubt it was a deliberate execution.

          • BorisG February 19, 2013, 2:35 AM

            “What mystifies me about Israelis is that they’re so completely gullible & believe (or want to believe) every lie issuing forth fr the mouths of their leaders when any sane, reasonable person could see from miles away that it’s a crock of crap.”

            How do you know this? From my time in Israel I concluded that they are extremely cynical about their leaders. That they re-elect them is only a sign that they concluded that they are a lesser evil than other parties.

            Attitude to military and security apparatus is different. They know that they are not angels but they think this it is necessary for Israel to be tough in such an environment.

          • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2013, 11:33 AM

            The average Israeli is cynical. But those who comment here aren’t the average Israeli. They’re the true believers and apologists for the governing Likud coalition and its ultranationalist ideology. They spout chapter and verse here from the mouths of the leadership and accept it all as if it were Torah from Moses on Mt. Sinai.

          • Eden February 19, 2013, 12:14 PM

            Why would you generalize so broadly in describing so many people? I am sure some of the Israelis on this site may be as left-wing as you are. With age and wisdom I have learned not to criticize people I don’t agree with in a manner which would create a unified block of adversaries.

          • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2013, 6:13 PM

            It should go without saying that there are Israelis here who are not true believer pro-Israel types. I was clearly not referring to them in my previous comment. Nuance is required in reading my comments.

            But there certainly is a class of Israeli who comments here who is the true believer type. You and others fit that description.

          • Joel February 19, 2013, 10:15 PM

            ” You and others fit that description.”

            At age 55, I only just made aliyah six months ago.
            Until than, I was practicing trial lawyer.

          • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2013, 1:18 AM

            You made aliyah, hence you’re an Israeli, no?

          • BorisG February 20, 2013, 3:29 AM

            But it seems ‘true believer’ and ‘Israeli apologist’ and ‘hasbarist’ is any person who disagrees with Richard Silverstein at least on one issue.

            There are people who condemn every single policy or action of the Israeli government, no matter what it does. There are also people who defend Israel no matter what it does. And then there are people who are critical of some Israeli policies and actions, but defend or excuse other actions. And this third category is very broad because different people agree with the government on differentt issues but disagree on other issues. For example I think it is horrible that Zygier died in Israeli prison but I think it is normal for a high-level security detainee to be denied bail.

          • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2013, 12:10 PM

            Saying “it is horrible that Zygier died in jail” but excusing the terms under which this crime happened it not “disagreeing” with Israel. It is merely taking the easy way out. Don’t pat yourself on the back for holding this perspective. It’s useless morally.

          • BorisG February 20, 2013, 3:20 AM

            you have a point that an Israeli may be cynical about their goverment but will defend Israel with conversations with foreigners nonetheless. There is certain logic in that. I can think of government (any specific government) as evil but I also know we need government. In Israel this is more acute. Government oficials can be dirty and corrupt but Israel needs them to defend the country.

          • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2013, 12:06 PM

            That’s not what I wrote. I wrote that most Israelis are cynical about their leaders & expect the worst & their expectations are invariably realized. But others who are true believers will either pretend to believe or actually believe every lying word that exits the mouths of these leaders.

            A dirty corrupt leader doesn’t “defend” the country. He only leads it into a sinkhole as Israel’s leadership has done.

          • Yanshuf February 20, 2013, 11:51 AM

            Can’t bring proove that there was no due process per Israeli law..
            As to psychological evaluations there is no way to proove that it did not happen.
            If the government goes to great lengths to provide legal council,insure that a 3 judge court is impaneled, permits the Zygiet family to provide their own consulting attorney why couldn’t they permit a psychological evaluation?

            The toxicology report from the judicial death inquest indicated that there was a low level of a tranquilizer in his bloodstream. Now any physician could have prescribed it or maybe it was prescribed after a psyche eval. If I were him I would want some Valium or something similar.

            Just because the truth doesn’t fit a persons deepest desire of conjured narative it doesn’t mean the truth is untrue. Sometimes a duck is nothing more than a duck.

            Sometimes a duck is just a duck.

        • Oui February 19, 2013, 11:53 AM

          Prisoner ‘X’ of his own free will ..

          According to Aharonovitch, Zygier agreed to be held under a false name for national security reasons and in order to protect his family. He also agreed to the gag order, which was upheld by then-Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch.

          “He was given all of the rights of prisoners in Israel, and his family knew about his arrest and visited him in jail. He had a lawyer that he chose of his own free will, and received a regular criminal trial, which was held behind closed doors for national security reasons.”

          Who is Yitzhak Aharonovitch?
          Dorit Beinisch to become distinguished global fellow at NYU Law

    • Michael February 18, 2013, 9:22 PM

      Th flip side of that, is that it would have looked ‘better’ for Australia, if they had locked him up in soitary confinement and allowed him to die in a suicide proof cell, for being involved with Mossad.

      Imagine the response if that was the situation.

      • Richard Silverstein February 18, 2013, 9:24 PM

        Except that’s not how Australia or other western democracies work. It IS how Israel works all too often.

        • BorisG February 19, 2013, 2:37 AM

          If he indeed revealed Mossad’s secrets to ASIO, this looks similar in magnitude to the crime of Pollard, isn’t it?

          • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2013, 11:31 AM

            Not at all. Pollard’s stolen information was given by Israel to the Soviet Union & compromised many top secret operations of the U.S. Australia will not be sharing whatever it learned with the Iranians or any Arab state.

            Whatever Zygier did he would not have been sentenced to life in prison as Pollard was (though the security services would threaten him with that to initimidate him).

      • Yanshuf February 20, 2013, 12:05 PM

        The cell was only suicide proof if the guards were told to be on a suicide watch.

        Just because someone is in solitary confinement does nt neccisarly mean they are under suicide watch.

        If they had wanted him dead they would have done away with all the unnecessary complications of 3 judge court,gag orders notifying his wife and family, a hearing before supreme court justices, a offer of a plea bargain and permitting a private attorney hired by the family to meet with him the ” day before they murdered him”.

        Would have been much simpler to have had him disappeared while overseas.

        Everyone who needed to know,knew. His family,the legal system, the courts of first instance the highest level of the appellate system.

        Everyone is walking around the big elephant in the room and nobody is talking about it. Learn how to count to ten.

  • BorisG February 18, 2013, 9:13 AM

    I obtained my Australian citizenship in 2003 and kept my Israeli passport, as did countless people before me. The guy who twitted you is incorrect (or perhaps he means something else, like formal dual citizenship).

    • dana February 18, 2013, 8:51 PM

      BorisG, you may be in for a little surprise when time comes to renew your Australian passport. You may want to read Anthony Lowenstein from the past 2 days. he has some interesting stories to tell about at least one israeli who tried to renew his passport.

      Basically, the Zygier affair burnt you too, if you are indeed Australian. Virtually every israeli immigrant to Australia and/or an Australian who travels a lot to israel, possibly even served in their vaunted occupation army, will be living under a cloud of suspicion.

      This may not bother you much (assuming you are in fact, Australian now, for whatever reason you decided to become one) but rest assured, there will be more blowback as time goes on. Just go and ask some of your non-jewish, non-Israeli, non-Russian neighbours.

      • BorisG February 19, 2013, 2:47 AM

        I will test it pretty soon, for I got my passport in 2003 and thus it is up for renewal. But I do not think they can refuse to renew the passport for an Australian citizen. The rest is meaningless. People have all sorts of prejudice, and it does not depend on one’s passport but on their origin, appearence etc. I cannot change these things even if I wanted to.

        BTW asking my Australian nighbours is extremely meaningless because even if they are suspicious, they won’t tell me that. Of course my neighbours haven’t got the slightest idea what passports I hold anyway. I doubt they even know my name.

        My work enviornment is very multi-cultural and if people become suspicious of foreign nationals or dual nationals, they have to be suspicious of 75% of colleagues. That is paranoya.

  • Eden February 18, 2013, 9:39 AM

    “Prior to 4 April 2002, Australian citizens who became citizens of another country lost their Australian citizenship automatically.”
    link to citizenship.gov.au

    Immigrants do not have to become citizens as soon as they enter their new country even if this is an option. It is simply possible that Mr. Zygier became an Israeli citizen after the date mentioned above.

  • Oui February 18, 2013, 1:25 PM

    Original article by Jason Koutsoukis ASIO targets new spy suspects (February 27, 2010)

    “ASIO is investigating at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens who they suspect of using Australian cover to spy for Israel. The investigation began at least six months before last month’s assassination of the Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have been carried out by the Israeli security agency Mossad.”

    Thus the ASIO investigation started in July 2009 and Jason Koutsoukis contacted Ben Zygier in the fall of 2009 when he was in Israel. This new report therefore does not make sense, is a deception.

    Confidential cable from US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich dated February 25, 2010 – the day the passports story first broke – shows the embassy believed Australia would vote against the UN resolution [Goldstone Report] despite its anger at Israel. The cable quotes senior DFAT official Joel McGregor as saying Australian officials were “furious” all the way up the chain of command.

    “The recent revelations that suspected Mossad agents used fake Australian passports to enter Dubai and kill a Hamas commander have made this decision more complicated.”

    My analysis, this is just smoke and mirrors. The Mossad and ASIS have worked very closely throughout these events, these articles about what politicians say could be for public consumption. Australia and New Zealand (Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem) were deeply involved with the fake passports for many years.

    Former Australian FM Downer says in 1990s Israel was warned not to issue fake passports to Mossad agents.
    ‘Mossad spies’ jailed over New Zealand passport fraud, identity theft of tetraplegic man – 2004
    ‘NZ quake victim was Mossad agent’ – July 2011

    The accusation against Ben Zygier must have been as grave as the Vanunu affair. I’m thinking more along the line of the Hariri assassination. The Mehlis Report got the wrong suspects and the STL trial of Hezbollah agents is very weak and based on circumstantial evidence provided by Western powers and Israel. One of Australia’s top cops and former chief investigator for the tribunal, Nick Kaldas, reiterated accusations that Hezbollah was behind the killing.

    • dana February 18, 2013, 8:42 PM

      Qui – there’s another consideration to take into account: ASIO and ASIS could have been at cross purposes, or became so at some point. If the disclosure to Koutsoukis (and a detailed one it was – complete with phone numbers of the Australian/Israeli agents) came from ASIO, there must have been a good reason for wanting this information out in the public. An intra-agency duel would explain this gambit.

      it is definitely possible that despite official orders for the ASIO to work closely with Israel, orders that would come straight from the political echelons that are susceptible to being influenced by various elements, there could have been ASIO agents who were very uncomfortable with the idea of compromising, willy-nilly the good name of Australian passports. Leaking g a few names to the media, especially to a journalist known for being willing to dig into information, is a good way to strike back.

      As the story unfolds, the political powers in Australia – after Dubai – were content with a slap on the wrist to israel. This caused the same elements within the ASIO – already quite unhappy with the willingness of politicos to look the other way – to fume. But there was nothing they could do, short of outright disobedience. So they bid their time. All through the death of Zygier. Possibly there were further attempts to leak things but what news items there were did not see the light of day.

      Fast forward to 2013. What caused the release of the abc documentary at this time? a program that drew attention to Koutsoukis’ article of Feb 27 2010? I think something happened in late 2012 (how long did it take to put the documentary together? 2 months? 4 months?) that caused the disclosure that got the documentary rolling. I suggest people look at the August/September/october 2012 timeframe for whatever that could be. And i wouldn’t limit my search to either Australia or israel.

  • Yanshuf February 18, 2013, 3:59 PM

    Generally immigrants to Israel have temporary immigrant visas for three years after witch they need to change their status to new

    In situations were people come from countries that prohibit dual nationality Israel permits immigrants to live in Israel as permanent residence.

    Jews who are not Israeli citizens may come to Israel and serve in the IDF as volunteers without officially immigrating nor accepting Israeli citizenship. The program they enroll in is called Machal. They can serve in combat units but their are generally limitations in what type of units they can serve in do security considerations.


  • dickerson3870 February 18, 2013, 7:33 PM

    RE: “It also occurs to an Israeli friend that giving him cancer as a cover story to explain his arrest could allow the Shabak to make his illness ‘terminal’ should it need to ‘terminate’ him.” ~ R.S.

    MY COMMENT: Even if Zygier technically committed suicide, I still consider him to have been extra-judicially executed/murdered by the Mossad and Israel due to the extremely abusive conditions under which he was kept.

    SEE: “Israel’s Knesset to look at arrest and death of Australian Ben Zygier”, By Charles Miranda in Tel Aviv, news.com.au, 2/18/13

    [EXCERPT] . . . Meanwhile, it is being speculated cameras in the Zygier’s cell supposedly to give him 24/7 security may have been turned off on the orders of Mossad to block him as “prisoner X” from revealing his true identity.
    Israel media have revealed the prison service was given strict orders to not engage the prisoner or allow any contact with the outside world and were even barred from allowing standard access to pre-detention psychologist and prison official interviews. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to news.com.au

  • Eden February 19, 2013, 12:10 PM

    “Pollard’s stolen information was given by Israel to the Soviet Union”

    To be honest as far as we know, the only reason the Soviets got access to that Pollard’s info was because they had a spy in Israel.
    It could be that Australia has an Iranian spy who would get access to information, one would not blame Australia for it. Australia would then be the victim of an intelligence breech and not a country spreading info to the enemies.

    • Richard Silverstein February 19, 2013, 6:08 PM

      If that’s as far as you know, you don’t know much. Israel gave the Soviets carte blanche in terms of Pollard’s intelligence. It wasn’t stolen by a spy. If memory serves there was an exchange of intel secrets in return for the freedom of Soviet Jews.

      There’s an Iranian spy in Australia with access to Australian intelligence secrets? That’s a good one!

      • BorisG February 20, 2013, 3:09 AM

        Australians shared info with journalists, which is no different from giving it to the Iranians. Information about a front company in Italy may have compromised a critical operation.

        • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2013, 12:08 PM

          Yes, a “critical operation” to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program or blow up its missile bases or assassinate its scientists. Such a critical operation only serves to destabilize the region & make life far more complicated for everyone living there including Israelis.

    • Yanshuf February 20, 2013, 12:17 PM

      Pollards information was not shared with Russia.
      That was a theory for awhile until they caught Aldridge Ames.
      It was Aldridge Ames who provided the identities ofRussians spying for the US.
      These Russians were arrested and executed.

      Your memory is wrong. There was no exchange of pollard information for the release of Soviet Jews.
      The second large Aliyah to Israel happened after the end of old fashion communism.

      More fantasies and conjecture based on what a person is desperate to see and not the truth.

      • Richard Silverstein February 20, 2013, 8:22 PM

        Pollard was in Navy intelligence. He shared information on weapons systems & satellite data not agents. You’ve confused two different spies. Here is the most up to date summary of the damage he caused.

        I’m afraid the only one wrong here is you.

        • Tom Holloway February 21, 2013, 9:22 AM

          According to the summary in the link: “there was no guarantee that such documents, revealing both sources and methods as well as assessments, would not find their way to the Soviet Union via a Soviet penetration of the Israeli intelligence or defense community – as had happened with a number of other allies.”

          I couldn’t find anything in the summary stating that Israel had intentionally given the information to the Soviet Union.

          • Richard Silverstein February 22, 2013, 12:21 AM

            I’ve been looking on the net to find support for this. I’d heard it from someome I trust as something he’d read & believed. But so far the only figure I’ve found online is from a source I don’t trust. So I’ll have to keep looking.

            But clearly Klingberg had penetrated to the highest reaches of Israeli military & scientific hierarchy. There could easily have been another such Soviet asset.

  • dana February 19, 2013, 9:58 PM

    As far as the news released today from israel about the manner of X’s death – he is supposed to have “suffocated” himself with a bed sheet in the bathroom. Now, really, just how easy is that? and, while we are at it, no one noticed he was carrying bed sheets to the bathroom? and those sheets are there in a a “suicide proof’ room?

    It took almost 2 years to conclude a suicide. Wow! must have been a very thorough investigation indeed. With traces of “tranquilizer” and heavily redacted report.

    If I recall, isn’t that reminiscent of the way Mahmous al_Mabhouh was reputed to die? first injected with a parlaysing agent (which leaves very little trace), then suffocated with a pillow to make his death look “natural”. Slight variation and the death can be made to look “suicidal”?

    these are fairy tales coming out of israel.. Not one word can be believed. What’s clear is that their judicial system, all the way to the “Supreme Court” was thoroughly implicated. I am sure this would come as very little surprise to the palestinians.

  • jadez February 20, 2013, 12:07 PM

    IS it possible that anyone here really believes this man killed himself??

  • Oui February 20, 2013, 2:07 PM

    Family of suspected spy fought to keep inquiry into his death open

    (SMH) – Israeli government representatives tried to shut down the investigation into the death in custody of Ben Zygier arguing there was no indication of a criminal action or negligence in the matter. But his family – once they were allowed to view the evidence – successfully fought for the investigation to continue, a report from the judge who led the inquiry into his death reveals. Judge Daphna Blatman-Kedrai’s report reads:

    ”The state concluded its arguments in the deliberation on [September 13, 2011], even before the family was permitted to peruse the evidentiary material and then claimed … the case must be closed after it was not learned from the investigation that the death of the deceased was brought about by means of a criminal action.”

    Post-mortem investigation not closed without determining culpability

    (Ynet news) – Addressing the duties placed on prison guards, Judge Blatman Kedrai said, “they are many and difficult to carry out. The duties placed on the IPS in connection to the deceased were particularly complex given the cloak of secrecy, gaps in information and compartmentalization.

    “Nevertheless, orders to prevent suicide were given and the elements entrusted with guarding the prisoner were aware of them. These orders were not upheld and a ‘window of opportunity’ was used by the deceased to commit suicide.”

    Traces of a tranquilizer drug were found in Zygier’s blood

    Always interesting to follow a panel discussion – France24 – Prisoner X

  • Yanshuf February 20, 2013, 6:59 PM


    If I were in prison facing a long sentence even if I plead guilty it would provide great comfort to know I had a loving wife and children on the outside. The birth of a new daughter would give me more of a push to see this through.

    But,if I suspected my wife cheated on me and the new daughter was not mine, well not sure how I would feel about that.

    All of the original dates and timing that were leaked would clearly indicate a extra marital relationship produced the latest daughter. And he committed suicide 4 days later.

    It could be that people are either telling the truth with the new dates or there is a concerted effort to cover up the dates so that no questions will remain concerning a extra marital affair that may have led to his suicide.

    Also if the second daughter were in fact conceived during the course of a affair it would cause the daughter very significant personal problems because of her Jewish religious status of a mamzeret.

  • Abalinx February 20, 2013, 7:21 PM

    Dear Richard, I have only just found your website. Excellent. Keep up the great work on reporting matters as you see them. We down under appreciate your straight your reporting of matters without the threat of any gag order.It is the only way to ensure some transparency. The reason I have kept the articles on young Ben Zieger is because no one needs to die alone and I am of the opinion that despite what he is being accused of, the matter could have better handled. I feel for his parents and hope that the truth can finally be brought to light. Regards Peter from “Down Under”

  • Avner February 25, 2013, 5:28 AM

    Ben may have been nailed because he may have done something which went to hurt Israel beyond Money , Repute or Security. Essentially in the Middle East the doctrine of Eye for an Eye or Life or a Life is widely accepted (Israel included).
    Most likely Ben willingly caused slaughter of Israeli covert security personnel and its allies – thus breaking the most important thing Israelis value – Trust. It is most likely Israelis wanted to sent a clear message via the fate Ben met to who ever Ben betrayed the information to – that even if it is one of our own , the needful will be done.

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