Screenshot: The Australian
Ben Zygier's photo in The Australian
Screenshot: The Australian
Report: Zygier and his partners were 'successful agents'
Der Spiegel says 'Prisoner X' and 'two other Australian Jews' were employed by straw company set up in Milan by Mossad. 'The nature of their business gave them access to military and secret installations,' report says. Israel: 'Prisoner X' had no links to ASIO

The online edition of German news magazine Der Spiegel revealed on Tuesday additional details on the Ben Zygier affair. According to the report, the "two other Australian Jews" who worked for Mossad alongside Zygier were known as Paul Y. and David Z. The magazine also tracked down the Italy-based straw company that served Mossad and employed the three agents.


Zygier died aged 34, just four days after the birth of his second child, on December 15, 2010, in a solitary confinement cell in the Ayalon high-security prison near Tel Aviv. He was reported to have hanged himself.


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The story has dominated headlines in Israel for the past week. According to Australian media, Zygier worked for Israel's Mossad spy agency and was mysteriously imprisoned by Israel in 2010 for unspecified security offenses.


Israel kept the case under wraps for more than two years, acknowledging it last week only 24 hours after Australian ABC broke the story. Israeli officials said he had been a danger to national security.



ABC's 'Prisoner X' investigation


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According to the Der Spiegel report, Zygier, also known as "Prisoner X," and his two partners who also worked for the Milan firm were reported to have been "successful agents." The magazine quoted an Australian intelligence source as saying, "The nature of their business gave them access to military and secret installations."


The magazine claimed the affair "provides insight into the methods of Mossad. It shows how the service recruits agents and masks operations."


The report said that, like Zygier, Y. and Z. also moved to Israel. The three of them - all holding dual Israeli and Australian citizenship - got jobs with the Milan-based firm. Back in Australia, they applied for new names. Ben Zygier got the names Benjamin Burrows and Benjamin Allen. Y. and Z. also changed their names at least twice, Der Spiegel claimed.


הדמיית הדרכון

Simulation of Zygier's passport


"But in 2009 their repeated name-changing aroused the interest of the Australian authorities - especially when Zygier handed in his old passports, filled with Iranian entry visas. Paul Y. spent a lot of time in Syria, Iran, Egypt and Dubai. David Z., too, travelled to Iran several times. That wasn't just evident from his passport stamps. During one trip in 2004, he sought help from the Australian consulate in Tehran," according to the report.


Der Spiegel said that as a young man Zygier got involved with the "Community Security Group" in Melbourne, a "kind of Jewish citizens' defense league." These groups often have links to Mossad and are instructed by agents, the magazine claimed. "Zygier was probably recruited in this way. At around the same time, Paul Y. and David Z. were recruited," it said.


As early as last week The Guardian reported that Zygier was employed by a straw company set up by Mossad in Europe which sold electronic components to Iran.


Der Spiegel said the Milan-based company specializes in the sale of satellite communications technology.


Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office released a statement on Tuesday claiming that Zygier had no links to Australian security agencies and organizations. The statement was released amid reports that Zygier disclosed detailed information on Mossad to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.


Earlier Tuesday, a report penned by Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai about the circumstances that led to Zygier's death was released. The report said there was evidence to suggest that failures by Israel Prison Service personnel caused his death.


The judge agreed to publish parts of the report following a petition filed by media outlets with the Rishon Lezion Magistrates' Court. The report said that Zygier used a bed sheet to hang himself in his cell's toilet.



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