Fact Box: Prisoner X

‘Prisoner X’ worked for Israel: Australia
Australia acknowledged for the first time that the dual Australian-Israeli citizen who died in a maximum-security Israeli prison had been working for Israel. Australia has raised the possibility of a diplomatic fuss if the man’s Australian passport was used for espionage.
Who is Prisoner X?

  • Prisoner X, Mr. X and Mister X were proxy names for Ben Zygier while he was imprisoned in Israel in strict secrecy for unspecified crimes at Ayalon Prison.
  • Ben Zygier was an Australian-Israeli citizen.
  • The Israeli government has accepted that a prisoner held under a fictitious name died in their custody and has affirmed the prisoner’s identity as Ben Zygier.
  • The name Prisoner X has previously been used for other unidentified prisoners and is the name of an X-Men book by Ann Nocenti.

Timeline of Prisoner X scandal

  • December 10, 2010: A man is found hanged in cell at Ayalon prison, in Ramla, Israel
  • Story was reported  about the details of the death in Israeli news website Ynet, but is soon then taken down. Rumours continued to circulate that Prisoner X, as he became known, was a Mossad agent.
  • February 12, 2013: Australia’s ABC News names Prisoner X as Ben Zygier who was reportedly born in Melbourne to a prominent Jewish family and who later moved to Israel in 2000
  • February 13, 2013: Israeli justice ministry affirms the existence of Prisoner X
  • February 14, 2013: Australia admits it was told of Mr Zygier’s detention in February 2010
  • March 2013: Australia contends that the ‘Prisoner X’ worked for Israel

– The Mossad (short for HaMossad leModi’in uleTafkidim Meyuhadim) is the national intelligence agency of Israel.
– It is believed that Prisoner X (Mr. Zygier) met Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) agents and told them about secret and sensitive Mossad operations he was involved in, including one to set up a shell company in Italy that would export electronic equipment to Iran and Arab countries.



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