Share This Page

Prisoner found dead a suspected spy for Israel

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 9:57 p.m.

JERUSALEM — An Australian-Israeli citizen suspected of spying for Israel — who died while secretly held in an Israeli jail in 2010 — had been charged with grave security crimes and was weighing a possible plea bargain, according to a lawyer who met with him shortly before his death.

The lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, said on Thursday that the crimes included espionage and treason, but he declined to cite the specific charge. He cited a court-imposed gag order.

Australia's media reported Friday that Australian security officials suspect that the prisoner, identified as Ben Zygier, 34, might have been about to disclose information about Israeli intelligence operations, including the use of fraudulent Australian passports by the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

Zygier's mysterious demise had been cloaked in extraordinary secrecy in Israel for more than two years, but a report by Australia's ABC network led Israeli authorities to acknowledge the death late Wednesday after initially attempting to prevent local media from publishing the story.

A statement from Israel's State Attorney's office did not identify the prisoner or his nationality, saying only that he had Israeli and foreign citizenship and had been held under a false identity for security reasons. The statement added that the prisoner's family was notified immediately of his arrest and that he had been represented by lawyers.

The prisoner was found dead in his cell about two years ago. A court-ordered investigation was held, and the death was ruled a suicide six weeks ago. A statement added that the case is being examined for possible negligence.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.