Israel Spy Scandal and Press Censorship

Russia Today reports on the scandal surrounding the mysterious death in prison of Ben Zygier, an Australian who had been recruited into Israeli intelligence, Mossad. Rumors swirl that he had had a crisis of conscience about the assassination in Dubai of suspected Hamas operative Mahmoud Mabhouh, in which Mossad field officers used passports of living Australians, Britons and citizens of other countries friendly toward or allies of Israel (thereby endangering them). Zygier might have been imprisoned because it was learned that he was threatening to go public. He is said to have committed suicide in prison. For the Israeli press, a further scandal here is that there was a strict government gag order, preventing the Israeli press from reporting on the Zygier case. Aluf Benn of Haaretz explains that ordinarily, Israeli journalists can get around censorship by quoting foreign press sources. But in this case, he said, the initial command from Mossad was to “ignore the story.”

The willingness of Israel’s Mossad to use friendlies as cover has angered the US CIA and Australia in the past.

14 Responses

  1. One or two days after talking to one of Israel’s top human rights lawyers, he died from hanging in a cell designed to prevent hanging. The lawyer confirmed that there was nothing in Zygier’s manner that would suggest that he was suicidal.

    In short: the Israeli government used Australian passports in order to kill a HAMAS leader in Dubai, then used secret charges to jail an Australian-Israeli Mossad agent who was starting to go public about it, then they murdered him and conducted a whitewashing inquiry.

    Horrifyingly, the Jewish community over here in Melbourne seems to be locking ranks and refusing to call Israel to account for its many crimes in regard to this saga (our government is still trying to work out who knew what and when).

    • One story was that Zygier had been cooperating with the authorities in Dubai regarding the case.

      There was the Uri Brodky arrest in Poland as he was a suspect charged in Germany with espionage and passport violations in connection with the Mossad operation. Poland extradited Brodsky on the condition that he face only passport charges. Brodsky was extradited, released on bail, returned to Israel and the matter eventually settled after a fine was paid. No real accountability by Israel despite the fact Brodsky was apparently involved in acquiring passports needed to help the Mossad agents enter into Dubai.

      There was also the story that Dubai police in the early stages of the investigation, before the Mabhouh death became public, asked the U.S. for assistance relative to identifying credit card numbers used by the suspects, but that the U.S. refused to cooperate – per Wikileaks disclosures of cables between the two nations.

      It would be highly unusual however for the Mossad to try to kill someone who was Jewish – especially one of their own operatives.

  2. I suppose this is more acceptable than “shot while trying to escape.” One can only wonder the extent to which things like this have been and are occurring …

  3. Richard Silverstein has been covering this extensively.

  4. How very different from apartheid South Africa. Prisoners used to fall out of high windows there.

  5. “The only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East”

    Ayup!

    And I have a bridge to sell you… [just so happens it runs from Lower East Side to Williamsburg]…

  6. As for the actual assassination and “suicide”, I don’t think the readers of lurid spy novels from the Cold War would be too surprised. It’s normal-level ruthlessness from any government in wartime, even if its supportive voters refuse to mind that the government keeps the war going for economic and political benefits.

    The problem is the censorship, because of the slippery slope. In Israel, much more so than the US, EVERYTHING can be branded a security risk, even a drop in the stock market, or proof of a pollution problem, or an expose of any member of the economic elite. To say nothing of treatment of Palestinians.

  7. If you ever thought Mossad were smart, you should read how one of their agents tried to steal a New Zealand passport. They choose a living person who had never left the country, a severely disabled man in care, a despicable action in itself.

    The agent – complete with thick Israeli accent – then tried to pass himself off as someone who had lived all his life in New Zealand. The Police caught a whole nest of them and the Israeli Ambassador – protesting his innocence – was asked to clear off.

    Sadly the embassy is back – and back to old tricks if a report on an Israeli tourist killed in an earthquake has any foundation.

    • In the NY Times #1 best-seller “By Way of Deception”, a former Mossad case officer revealed that the spy agency had conducted scientific analysis of the fibers that composed the material used in passports of every major world country so that those passports could be replicated internally. Why they would have to steal someone’s passport in another country is puzzling to say the least.

      Mabhouh was regarded as a relatively insignificant target and his death was viewed as amateurishly committed in a manner that Dubai police easily untangled. It has become an embarrassment to the Israeli government. The killing has been denounced by the United Nations, European Union and nations whose ostensible passports were misused in the operation.

  8. The NYT story on this intimated that he had cooperated with the Dubai investigation, which was considered treason. They didn’t suggest he was planning to go public, which hardly seems to matter since the events in Dubai are common knowledge anyway.

    • Zygier had been contacted by a well-known Australian journalist (Jason Koutsoukis), who asked him out his Mossad work – which Zygier appears to have denied strenuously. I did see an earlier report suggesting that Zygier might have been about to go public, but I haven’t been able to find it again. At any rate, the fact that he had any contact with a journalist at all would have made Mossad pretty unsettled.

      link to smh.com.au

  9. The American press/media will never ‘track’ this story because it may lead to something called ‘anti-Semitism’ and that is a dead end (or end to any reporter’s career). It will be ignored.

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