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What Happened to ‘Prisoner X’?

4:25 PM, Feb 14, 2013 • By MICHAEL ROSS
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Australian press reports are stating that Australia was notified of Zygier’s arrest in 2010 by the Israeli government and yet no mention was made of his fate until Australia’s ABC network reported on the affair yesterday. This of course begs the question as to why the Australian authorities were complicit in keeping the story under wraps. When a citizen is arrested abroad, most western countries do not attempt to hide the fact. Australia’s foreign minister, Bob Carr, has admitted that the foreign ministry and another Australian government agency (a euphemism for ASIO) indeed knew of his arrest in 2010.

This case will no doubt continue to provide many unanswered questions: Why wasn’t a better deal worked out between two friendly services? After all, Australia and Israel’s intelligence communities enjoy a robust working liaison relationship in many areas of common interest. How long did both countries think that “Prisoner X” would remain anonymous? Why was Zygier sent back to Australia when Israel had already experienced a high profile scandal involving passports down under? Why did Australia hang him out to dry and not seek his repatriation if indeed he was working for them? Why didn't they go public as they did with the 2004 passport scandal? Where was the due process that is afforded a citizen of a country governed by the rule of law?

We may never know what really happened to Ben Zygier. It appears that he will join the ranks of a long line of shadow warriors whose tale will never be told. What ever the truth may be, there can be no doubt that he was let down by both countries.

Michael Ross is a former Mossad operations officer.

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