53 thoughts on “Israeli Intelligence Sanitized Zygier’s Cell After Hanging, Family Demands Millions in Damages – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I believe dual citizens have no right to consular support if they are arrested in one of the countries in which they hold a citizenship. A dual Israeli-Australian citizen is only Israeli in Israel and only Australian in Australia. I was also told by an international law expert that this has to do with the passport used in entering the country.

    1. This is the general rule. As an Israeli citizen, there would have been no intervention or involvement by the Australian consulate.

      I also have to marvel at Israel’s folly in having dual citizens working in its security agencies.

    2. Unless the dual citizen happens to have been taken prisoner while wearing IDF uniform, which makes the French president intervention fully justified.

      After all, where Israeli interests are concerns, double-standard is the only standard.

    3. Eden, have you also considered the case of the many dual israeli citizens residing outside israel? say, an israeli in the US who became also an American citizen. Should such an individual commit a security breach against the US, for example, by being found to spy for Israel, would the “law” you cite apply? namely that he would not be entitled to assistance from the state of Israel on behalf of which it worked to undermine US interests? there were such cases, you know….not all of which the public knows about.

      1. A dual Us citizen in the US will not enjoy any consular privileges with the country of his/her second citizenship nor should she/he. With the privileges of citizenship comes the inability to claim that you are a foreigner.

          1. Richard, I have checked into it here in Cairo. The US Citizens Services office at the embassy advises US citizens who become Egyptian citizens that they are no longer represented or assisted by the US embassy, with the exception of passport services. In other words, if I become an Egyptian citizen I will no longer be eligible for consular services from the US government. You cannot be a foreigner and a citizen at the same time. I would assume this policy applies in a general way overall. If I’m an Egyptian and US citizen and I’m arrested here, I cannot expect the US embassy to assist me. “The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person’s allegiance.” http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html

          2. mary, the US policy on dual citizenship is not a uniform policy for all countries. many countries, unlike the US, do not require renunciation of prior citizenship when becoming a citizen of the new home country.

          3. No, it doesn’t. An obvious example is Israel, again – there is a substantial number of Israelis who are also US citizens. This has been a controversy for quite a while – that US citizens can serve in the IDF using their Israeli citizenship.

  2. The family did not DEMAND compensation (see the reuters article you quote). Get your facts straight if you want to be credible.

  3. Eden is correct. I have both Australian and Israeli passports and live in Australia. if G-d forbid, I have trouble with the law, do I expect the Australian government to inform Isralis? How would they even know, I mean officially, that I have an Israeli passport? Tens of thousands of dual nationals live in Australia. Do Australian authorities inform all these foreign authorities when a dual national is arrested? No. If they are Australian nationals, they treated only as Australians. Their other passports do not matter.

      1. “Mr Varghese (DFAT Secretary General) said because Mr Zygier was a dual national, he was ”not under the relevant conventions” and there was ”no obligation on the Israeli government to commit to prison visits”.

        Clearly there is some ambiguity with respect to interpretations of international law here.

        1. There is only ambiguity when a government bureaucrat is trying to cover his & his ministry’s ass. In totally dispassionate, disintereted terms, Australia owed Zygier far more than it delivered, which was nothing.

      2. Even if from purely legal point of view you are right, common sense suggests that my having Israeli passport in addiition to the Aus one should not give me additional rights or priveleges under Australian law.

        Also, original reporting suggested that Australia was not informed at all. Now the ‘outrage’ is about the fact that they were informed through intelligence channels not official diplomatic channels.

        I think it is right and proper to condemn serious violations of human rights, but this is undermined by focusing on such subtle detail. Of course The Age needs to be outraged to stay relevant and will always find sympathetic experts, but we need to maintain the sense of proportion to maintain credibility.

        1. BorisG, here’s something to consider: as an israeli-australian dual citizen you too are under suspicion due to the long shadow cast by the Zygier affaire. can you blame any Australian people you meet who know you have failed to renounce your israeli citizenship (by no means an easy process!) for making assumptions and perhaps exercising due caution with regards to information they share with you? this will be all the more applicable should your work be in the IT area or technology and if you like to, say, travel a lot ( “a crusie, again, he Boris?” wink, wink).

          All dual israeli citizenship people need to seriously consider the ramifications of this incident, no matter what their opinions are in general or where their true loyalties are. If you are a true Australian then you know very well the importance attached to the integrity of an Australian passport. And that’s what has been undermined by Zygier, the Dubai mafioso hit team, AND the lousy treatment he was afforded in Israel, no matter what he may or may not have done.

          1. No I am not the least concerned. I think dual citizenship does mean dual loyalties, and it is the price I am obviously prepared to pay. People will become suspicipus of me? Are they suspicious of colleagues who are foreign nationals (not Australian citizens)? I do not think this matters, in the open society we live in. Of course, if I ever apply for a job where some information is sensitive, maybe they should not accept a dual citizen. That is fine with me. BTW when a dual citizen is appointed to a senior givernment posiiton in Israel, he/she has to renounce their foreign citizenship. Example: Michael Oren. One would assume the same should happen if they join the Mossad but for the fact that their foreign passport was the reason they were recruited. Not sure why Mossad is not cocerned about their dual loyalty, and how it looks at this issue.

          1. Yes, and it is the death in custody that we need to be concerned about (this is a major blunder), not which branch of Australian government was informed.

    1. I am going to look into the legal issue further, but as a matter of relations between countries i find it preposterous that one country would not inform another that it had a citizen under arrest even if that person had dual citizenship. if that’s israel’s position, it would seem to have a lot to lose if the UK, Canada, France, or more problematically, a muslim country, adopted the rule that they had no obligation to inform israel if they took a dual israeli-canadian citizen, for example, into custody, particularly for national security reasons. let’s see how israel interprets international law under those circumstances.

      1. Absolutely. Let’s say as a hypothetical, Jonathan Pollard when he was spying was a U.S.-Israeli dual citizen. We arrested him but didn’t notify the Israelis, who in turn did nothing to help him. THen he died or committed suicide in a U.S. prison. What would the reaction be in Israel? Would Bibi argue he had no responsibility to Pollard?? Or would he call for a commission of inquiry to determine how badly Israel had failed him & which heads should roll?

        1. Actually, Pollard is a very special case because he is jailed for acitvities undertaken on behalf of Israel’s government. Thus Israel’s government has cocerns over him, regardless of his citizenship.

          1. It also calls to mind Furkan Dogan, the young Turkish American who Israel murdered on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. As he was a US citizen as well as a citizen of Turkey, why was his death only noticed by the Turkish government, with nary a peep from the US?

            If a man is an Israeli citizen, maybe it is policy to check and find out if he is also a citizen of another country, because so many Israelis are. But normally if a citizen of a country dies inside that country, it isn’t a practice to fish around and inquire as to whether he or she is also a citizen of any other country as well. How impractical. But – in this case – you have to wonder. Of course Israel knew Zygier was an Australian citizen.

  4. The Guardian is suggesting that there are AT LEAST four or five “Prisoner Xs” in Israel, so Prof. Silverstein’s source may not have misinformed him at all, over who Prisoner X was: the source may merely have known about another Prisoner X altogether.

    The chap kidnapped from Ukraine would probably embarrass Mossad more than Zygier, if shipping him in a coffin required an incapacitant capable of keeping him quiet in a very confined space for a couple of days. I am sure the coroner and senior investigating officer in the Gareth Williams case would be very interested in that incapacitant.

    Further, Zygier was apparently detained very shortly before a very senior Russian SVR General was done-in whilst swimming in the sea near Tartus. Those who postulate that Zygier was a CIA or ASIO double agent may be in the right ball-park, but not quite the right spot…

    Williams himself was most likely done in because he threatened a racket by ex-Israeli intelligence and security officers, rather than any interest of the Israeli or any other state.

    Hard questions about that could be directed to a retired MPS Chief Superintendent and “Commander” living in Windsor.

    The forthcoming Lloyd Webber musical about human rights in Israel “Nacht und Nebel” may turn into quite an opera if all the secret prisoners and murder victims become known.

    1. good points Qui. Glad to see there are some who have not forgotten the Gareth Williams case and the deep deep cover-up that ensued.

      Alas, for the israeli system, when a Prisoner ‘x’ happens to be palestinian “Arab”, it’s “move on, now, it’s just another Arab…”. there is nothing like the outrage we see for Zygier directed to the individual kidnapped from the ukraine 9whose case, fortunately was exposed by many, this blog especially, so he is not a “one time X”). I completely agree that there are other prisoner ‘x”s in israel, but if they are palestinians, it’s ‘who cares” in israel.

      This one, Zygier is of concern BECAUSE Australia is so special and because it affects the entire Australian jewish community by implication. What does it say that they – the Australian parents, the community, the many people he knew and grew up with in Australia, were silent (catatonically so) for lo, over 3 years? i understand that there’s shame involved and to speak out would be to open a can of worms, but honestly, did people, supposedly from a warm communal group, care that little about one of theirs/ to put it another way – are all Australians THAT naive about Israel and what it’s capable of?

      To me, this is the worst part, the cloak of silence among jewish Australians, including the tightly connected Chabad community to which ben’s parents belonged.

      Mind you, I do understand the silence from the israeli family. The social consequences to them from this becoming widely known cannot be understated. To be ostracized in israel is to be dead man walking. It is likely that Ben Zygier, of all people knew that and this knowledge must be partly what his guards and inquisitors preyed on.

  5. The United States insular to Article 36 of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. [Dual-citizenship is not covered under Art. 36 VCCR according to US State Dep’t]
    Texan authorities’ misunderstanding of, or contempt for, international treaties – here. [warning right-wing rant]

    History of Consular Relations – Mexico vs USA [a pdf file, need to click on page to scroll] .

    The US Supreme Court, in the case of José Ernesto Medellín v. Texas, held that decisions of the International Court of Justice are not binding domestic law and that, without authority from the United States Congress or the Constitution, the President of the United States lacks the power to enforce international treaties or decisions of the International Court of Justice.

  6. Dear Mr. Silverstein, Please let me make the following comments:

    a. It looks like you base some of your conclusions on conjectures.
    b. I would expect you to unveil the facts and analyze them, but wishing that Australia “make Israel pay for it” is just going too far letting emotions tell on your reporting.
    c. I, as I believe most Israeli citizens, and the Israeli press, and the judicial system as well, hate it the when the government covers up its’ wrong doings and would not let them get away with it.
    d. Even though Australian sovereignty is nominally affected, it is the security of Israel that is (allegedly) badly damaged. Therefore, I would hope all except the Australian government to put aside formalities (not wrong doings of course).
    e. Last, but foremost, the Israeli security agencies are there to protect Israel not Australia, and there is a lot of protecting to do, and we support them even if they cross the lines, which they did many times, as we literally have to protect our lives and as עניי עירך קודמים (take care of your own people first)!

    Very Sincerely

  7. The only interesting reading today regarding this (for me) was Haaretz saying that a female associate of Zygier stated he had been involved in killing a ‘boy and girl’ in South Lebanon sending him into a month long hospitalized shock. The story accords with him later returning back to Australia to pursue the MBA. (gardening leave)

    If this is true, to me it explains why Zygier indulged the journalist over many calls and a meeting. If you had done some pretty heavy things, a journalist accusing you of mere name-changing passport abuse, whilst admittedly blowing your cover, is still only scratching the surface. Surely there would be paranoia at the allegation you had travelled to Lebanon, not realizing that that was the full extent of the allegation. It seems from Koutsoukis’s account that Zygier was fishing for information himself, somewhat surprised at the partial nature of the accusations, anticipating something greater.

  8. “After maintaining a strict silence concerning their loved one’s death, members of Zygier’s family (not clear whether this is his wife in Israel, his parents in Australia, or both) approached the State of Israel demanding compensation for the negligent death of Ben Zygier. ”

    The Reuters story says that the attorney involved in this request for compensation is Moshe Mazur who is one of the three Israeli attorneys who represented him while he was in prison suggesting that it may be his Israeli family that is pressing for compensation.

    “This occurred six weeks ago when a judge, who took eighteen months to arrive at this decision, found Zygier had died through the negligence of the intelligence and prison service.”

    In an unofficial English translation of the request by the government for the gag order to be partially lifted, it is very clear that the judge did not find that there was negligence, only that his death was a suicide. Further, it was a coroner’s inquest, not an investigation by the judge so it is the coroner who took eighteen months to arrive at this decision. The judge did, however, forward the results of the inquest to the State Attorney’s Office to look at the question of whether there was negligence:

    “Pursuant to her broad inquest, approximately one-and-a-half months ago, a decision was issued regarding the coroner’s inquest into the cause of death, from which it arises that this was suicide. However, the Presiding Judge sent the file to the State Attorney’s Office for an evaluation regarding issues of negligence.

  9. “One prison official even says the suicide story beggars belief because there are four video surveillance cameras in the cell.”

    While just an opinion, it beggars belief that the Mossad would be stupid enough to kill someone in their custody.

    If they wanted to get rid of him, I would think they would just let him go so that he could have an “accident” driving home on Ayalon highway.

    1. What for? Suicides happen in prisons all the time, and camera surveillance is a ubiquitous. The thing is, just because there are cameras in a cell does not mean they are in use or that som

      1. Sorry, for some strange reason my comment posted before I was finished typing it.

        The thing is, just because there are cameras in a cell doesn’t mean they are being used. I can’t imagine that if the Israelis wanted to kill Zygier that they would be so utterly inept as to hang him and call it a suicide.

  10. So foxes swarmed over the hen-house after the death of a hen and announced (via the foxes’ public relations functionaries) that the hen had committed suicide. Why did anyone in media bother to report this except as the death of a hen in a place swarming with foxes? Furthermore, in a country where the police (the agency which in some countries is charged with proper investigation of suspected crimes) are known to sweep certain possible-crimes under the rug, why does it matter that the so-called intelligence service [no ‘s’, is there only one?] (or the prison service) spent time in the prison cell before the police were allowed in? Would not these have been the prime suspects?

    Goofy reporting.

  11. It is unlikely that this will lead to difficulties for Israel in Australian parliament. I suspect that it will lead to nothing more than an increase of irritation with Israel among some insiders, notably Bob Carr, the Foreign Minister. He had, when Premier of New South Wales, heaps of trouble with the pro-Israel lobby when it became clear that he was intending to personally hand over the Sydney Peace Price to Hannah Asrawy.

  12. “The Mossad liaison I was in touch with informed me that, unfortunately, my client was no longer alive,” Feldman told Israel’s Kol Barama radio station.”

    Seems like Zygier was indeed Feldman’s CLIENT.

    The above sentence is also quoted as a ‘slip of the tounge’ confirmation of the link between Mosad and Zygier. It is a demonstration of the point I made earlier that when people outside of the security apparatus are in possession of informaiton, it is likely to come out. Yes they be under restrictions, but they are not professionals and it is hard to keep them from talking.

  13. You self-hating Jew! You fail to give Israel any credit for its seclusion-cells being less painful than Putin’s polonium-210 while performing a similar function.

  14. It would be a good idea to do a timeline of events or leaks and their sources, including the locations and travel dates of principals. (like empty wheel would do– that you can use refer back to, or expand and correct).

    Did Australia kick anyone out of the country at the time?

    Maybe they arrested him to keep him from revealing his Australian handler, or other agents or “helpers” known to him there.
    The US covers up these arrests for Israel’s reputation’s sake, I would expect Australia or other countries to do the same.

    Someone in the Israeli gov’t said when this broke that it was to save the Australians from embarrassment… strange. There is probably a lot of disinformation being fed thru the media now (like the Lebanon story- where is the source for that?) Soon there will be too many red herrings or limited hangouts, out there and it will be too difficult to separate the wheat from chaff or find the original sources.

    Good Job Mr. Silverstein
    (try not to take mentions of your name personally and get your emotions involved)

  15. I thank you Richard for delivering an honest and intelligent exposé on Ben Zygier. We just need to know how he died now. How could Ben die in a supposed suicide proof cell? All this is not helping Israel’s reputation as a nation on the right side of the Law.

  16. It is not true that the US will not attempt to assist any US citizen, even one who has another citizenship. It is the right of the receiving state to grant or deny US access and assistance to a person it considers its own citizen. Some grant access and some don’t.

    1. Quibbling I know, but one more time: If I am a naturalized citizen of Egypt and I break an Egyptian law, I am no different than a born Egyptian citizen even if my “first” citizenship is American. I cannot expect legal assistance from the US consulate services.

  17. A delay of eight days is unheard of……

    Was an autopsy undertaken – perhaps to ensure he had not swallowed any notes?

  18. Is there anyway we can blame Iran for this? And bomb them? I’m sure that if we look closely enough, we are bound to find evidence of Iranian involvement.

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