Prisoner X throws spotlight on Israel’s treatment of those it regards as enemies
The infamous case of Prisoner X – revealed this week to be Australian dual national and Mossad agent Ben Zygier, who killed himself in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison in 2010 – has once again focused attention on how the country treats those it regards as enemies of the state.
Following the revelation of the existence of a detention facility known as Camp 1391 in 2003, Israel said three years later that it no longer held prisoners in secret outside of international legal norms. The Zygier case suggests the Israeli government has not stuck to that promise.
Even the location of Camp 1391 was airbrushed from aerial images. An Israeli court ruled at the time that the facility – run by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet, used to house Palestinian prisoners with no access to their families and designated a military secret – held its inmates in substandard conditions.
When the UN Committee Against Torture reported on conditions in Israeli jails in 2009, it noted that while Israel had said the “secret detention and interrogation facility” had not been used since 2006 it had rejected a request to inspect the prison.
The report added: “The State party should ensure that no one is detained in any secret detention facility under its control in the future, as a secret detention centre is per se a breach of the Convention [on torture]. The State party should investigate and disclose the existence of any other such facility and the authority under which it has been established.”
Although it might be argued that cell 15 at Israel’s Ayalon prison, where Zygier was held before his death, was not a secret detention facility like Camp 1391, the fact that he was held in conditions of complete isolation and without access to a lawyer, with his guards not even knowing who their prisoner was, effectively created a “secret prison” within a prison.
The Zygier case is not the first where Israel has evaded international legal norms in incarcerating perceived enemies of the state.
AN AUSTRALIAN diplomat knew that Melbourne man Ben Zygier was being held in an Israeli prison before he died in his cell, the government has admitted, amid reports that Mr Zygier was a Mossad agent known as ”Prisoner X”.
Fairfax Media can also reveal that Mr Zygier was one of at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens being investigated in early 2010 by ASIO over suspicions they were spying for Israel.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr was forced into an embarrassing backflip yesterday as he ordered his department to investigate the Zygier case.
His office was forced to correct earlier claims that the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv knew nothing of the case until after Mr Zygier died in prison in December 2010 when his family – a prominent Jewish family in Melbourne – asked for his body to be repatriated.
a state can take another countries citizen..put him in jail..tell no-one and then allow him to be suicided..only in the usa or israel eh? *sarcasm
dead man cant give away secrets..he was involved in this plot..
someone in australia knew about this but has covered it up..no matter who or what Zygier was getting up to..its an example of the secrets governments keep..and how you can just disappear..