Leading Australian Jewish Group Breaks Silence on Prisoner X Affair

A week after the story about Ben Zygier broke, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry issues a statement welcoming calls in Israel and Australia for further investigation into the dual citizen's death.

Dan Goldberg
Dan Goldberg

Australian Jewry's leading body finally broke its silence on Tuesday about the mystery surrounding the death of Ben Zygier, a dual Australian-Israel national who apparently committed suicide in a maximum-security Israeli prison in 2010.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a statement welcoming calls from members of the Australian and Israeli governments for further inquiries into Zygier's death.

“We welcome the fact that the Israeli Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for Intelligence and the Israeli State Attorney's office, part of the Ministry of Justice, have both announced that they will be conducting investigations into the circumstances surrounding Ben Zygier's death,” said council president, Dr. Danny Lamm.

The statement came one week after an investigation by Australian broadcaster ABC TV claimed it had "compelling evidence" suggesting Israel's elusive Prisoner X was Zygier, a Melbourne-born alumnus of Hashomer Hatzair youth movement who made aliyah and reportedly worked for Mossad.

“We also welcome the inquiries being undertaken by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the fact that he has invited the Israeli authorities to have an input into those inquiries," the statement said.

“We look forward to the official inquiries publishing concrete information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ben Zygier in the hope that it will put further rumor and speculation to rest and bring some comfort to his still-grieving family and friends," the statement continued.

Since the story broke, Jewish leaders have kept quiet about the controversy. They feared the media would play up the issue of dual loyalty if they commented publicly, and also claimed to have no inside information about the case. In addition, they said, they wanted to pay respect to the Zygier family, which has also refrained from making public comments.

The community's silence, however, hasn't stemmed the storm of media speculation about Zygier - about whether he was a Mossad agent or a double agent, whether he planned to leak classified information or whether he did, in fact, commit suicide or die under different circumstances.

Ben Zygier's family.Credit: Handout

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