Report indicates that Mossad handlers arrested Prisoner X upon his return from Australia due to concerns he may have shared sensitive information with agents from the ASIO.
Ben Zygier, the alleged Mossad agent known as Prisoner X, was arrested by his handlers in 2010 because they believed he had delivered sensitive information to Australia’s domestic intelligence agency while on a visit to his native land, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Monday.
Zygier reportedly met a number of times with agents of the Australian Secret Intelligence Organization and shared comprehensive details with them about Mossad’s operations abroad, including his own work in Australia and a long-planned secret mission in Italy, according to reporter Trevor Bormann who last week broke the story of the Prisoner X affair.
Bormann said it was not yet clear whether Zygier initiated contact with the ASIO or was summoned for investigation. Reports from the last few days indicate that Zygier was detained by the ASIO for a long period of time while he was studying for his MBA at Monash University.
The ASIO’s suspicions into Zygier reportedly began after he changed his surname in his Australian passport four times. Since the beginning of this affair, various conjectures have emerged suggesting that Zygier was in fact a double agent for the Mossad and the ASIO.
Bormann’s latest report claims that during Zygier’s visit to Australia, long before he was arrested in 2010, he submitted a request for a work visa in Italy. According to the ABC report, Zygier – together with two other Australian passport holders – set up a straw company in Italy to trade communications equipment with Iran and several Arab states.
The Mossad discovered that Zygier was in contact with the ASIO and worried that he would – or already had – exposed to them the existence of the straw company in Italy.
The Brisbane Times last week quoted Australian security officials as saying that Zygier may have been about to supply information to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) or the media on Mossad activities in Australia, including the spy agency’s use of Australian passports. The ABC report on Monday is the first indicating that Zygier may have already passed on information to the ASIO.
Zygier was arrested by the Shin Bet security service in February 2010 and imprisoned in Ramle’s Ayalon Prison, where he committed suicide in December that year, despite being in an isolation cell and under constant surveillance.