The Guardian has published an interview with the Australian journalist who first spoke to Ben Zygier
in 2010 and questioned him about his alleged role in the Mossad.
Jason Katsoukis claims that at first, the story sounded "outlandish," and recants that while working in Israel
in 2009 he was contacted by a source with "connections to the intelligence world."
The source put him on the scent of three dual Israeli-Australian citizens, who, according to the source, worked for a Mossad-owned shell company operating in Euorpe; the company's business was selling electronic equipment to Iran
"The story was that Mossad was recruiting Australians to spy for them using a front company in Europe," he told The Guardian. "It all seemed too good to be true."
Gag order presented in Australian report
To Katsoukis' surprise, "What I was told seemed to check out. The company did exist."
Moreover, he succeeded in connecting the names the source had given him to the company
"I managed to establish that Zygier and another of the individuals had worked for it, (but) I wasn't able to confirm the third name.
"I was told too that the Australian authorities were closing in on Zygier and that he might even be arrested," he explained, claiming that Zygier aroused the authorities' suspicion after changing his name four times, an easy way to compile numerous passports in Australia, where one can legally change names once a year.
Moreover, Katsoukis also found out the Zygier applied for an Italian work visa.
Simulation of Zygier's passport
At this point Katsoukis believed the story to be "crazy."
However, the 2010 assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh,
and the alleged utilization of fake Australian passports
by the assassins, led Katsoukis and his editors to confront Zygier with their suspicions about him.
Katsoukis proceeded to contact Zygier, who, like him, was residing in Jerusalem and enraged him after inquiring about his connection to the Israeli Mossad.
"What is this total bulls*** you are telling me?" Zygier reportedly answered his inquires; expressing shock at the suggestion he was under any kind of surveillance and claiming he had changed his name for personal reasons.
''I have never been to any of those countries that you say I have been to," he told Katsoukis.
"When I spoke to him he was incredulous at first and said f*** off – but what was interesting was that he did not hang up. He did soundly genuinely shocked. But he listened to what I had to say.
"I still wonder why he didn't hang up. He denied everything however. He said he hadn't visited the countries it had been claimed he had. I tried calling again but in the end he told me to buzz off."
According to The Guardian, Katsoukis then spoke to the CEO of shell company leading to an equally strange dialogue.
"He seemed a bit weird. He denied all knowledge of what I was talking about, but then wanted to talk to me again and make an arrangement to meet up."
Still skeptical, Katsoukis proceeded to check with additional sources, including a senior government official whom he knew.
To his amazement, when given the change to kill the story the government sources instead seemed to confirm it.
According to The Guardian, Fairfax had already published the story of three Australian citizens who had allegedly been spying for Israel, but withheld the details about the existence of the front company.
However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Media was investigating the three men's involvement with a European communications company that has a subsidiary in the Middle East. However, the company's chief executive denied the men were ever employed by the organization.
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