Based first on court filings by the family of Australia-born Ben Zygier, the so-called Prisoner X who hanged himself in a high-security Israeli prison cell in December 2010, the newspaper Yediot Ahronot is reporting that another prisoner is being held in similar conditions — including, apparently, a court-ordered ban on naming him or her.
The initial newspaper report did not say the inmate, behind bars in a cell quite close to Zygier, was also a Mossad intelligence officer. Zygier did work for the Mossad, but he violated the espionage agency’s code of behavior — and allegedly violated Israeli law, although he ended his own life before any trial took place.
Judging by the pattern of previous prisoners held anonymously by Israel — including, for instance, the nuclear technician Mordecai Vanunu who gave photographs he took inside the Dimona reactor to a British newspaper — the trial of Zygier would have taken place “behind closed doors”: meaning no news reporters would have been present, and publishing anything about the case would have been banned by judges and by the military censor.
Government authorities claim that the defendant’s rights are still fully respected — including the right to be represented by a lawyer. The attorneys who work on such cases have security clearance, a process usually handled by the Shin Bet domestic security agency.
One of those lawyers, Avigdor Feldman, said on Tuesday that the second anonymous prisoner had also worked for Israel’s security services. Feldman, for some reason, used some tantalizing words in a radio interview (reported by The Forward).
When asked how the second detainee’s alleged crimes compared with those of Zygier, Feldman said: “Without getting into details? Much more grave. Much more sensational. Much more amazing. Much more riveting.”
Rather than teasing us with highly incomplete information, those in the know might consider a serious discussion of treason within Israel’s security services. Was there an epidemic of disloyalty in the Mossad? One or two cases per decade are, perhaps, to be expected. Yet with intelligence officers arrested secretly, and then held without their names being uttered, who is able to weigh exactly what is going on?
As an extra detail of the Zygier tragedy, the Yediot report also said that hi’s Israeli wife visited him in the high-security prison and told him that she had decided to end their marriage. Sources had suggested that a few months ago, as a possible contributing factor to Zygier’s depression.