Israel denies Zygier talked to Australian spy agencies

Israel denies Zygier talked to Australian spy agencies

Analyst says PMO announcement doesn't rule out possibility that deceased Mossad agent leaked information to other sources

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Ben Zygier. (Screenshot ABC TV via Youtube)
Ben Zygier. (Screenshot ABC TV via Youtube)

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Tuesday dispelled reports published earlier this week to the effect that the late Mossad agent who died in a high-security prison cell had leaked information to Australian intelligence.

Ben Zygier, who committed suicide in Israel’s Ayalon Prison in December 2010, “had no contact with Australian defense services or organizations,” the PMO said in an official statement.

An Australian television report on Monday had said that Zygier was arrested after passing information about Mossad operations and methods to Australia’s intelligence agency.

According to the report by ABC, which also broke the Zygier story last week, the imprisoned Mossad agent revealed information to officers from Australia’s ASIO internal intelligence agency, including facts involving a major upcoming operation in Italy.

Analysts on Israel’s Channel 2 speculated that the PMO’s announcement was worded to suggest that Zygier had indeed leaked information — just not to the Australian authorities. It was designed to dispel the notion that he was some kind of double agent, but did not exclude the notion that he had divulged information to the media, for instance, as has been claimed in some reports.

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