41 thoughts on “Ben Zygier Visited Iran Undercover for Mossad, Recruited Saudi, Iranian Students at Australian University – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

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

        as are citizens of every country in eastern europe.

      2. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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?

    1. 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 ?

  10. 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 :).

  11. 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.

    1. 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…

      1. 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

        1. @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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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 .

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

    1. 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.

  17. ” 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?

  18. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link