Israel absolves itself of Prisoner X's death with payout

The family of the Australian-born Mossad agent, who died in prison facing treason charges, will receive $1m

By Natasha Lennard
September 12, 2013 12:01AM (UTC)
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For the price of only $1 million, the Israeli government has legally absolved itself of the death of "Prisoner X" -- the Australian-born Mossad agent who was found hanged in 2010 while incarcerated and facing charges of treason.

The family of the agent, who's real name was Ben Zygier, will receive a series of payments. In return, the state of Israel can avoid any damaging disclosures being revealed in court.


The Israeli government, according to reports, had pressured Israeli media outlets not to cover Zygier's death.

As the Guardian reported:

Zygier, who held Australian and Israeli citizenships, hung himself in the Ayalon Prison in 2010. He was known as Prisoner X due to his secret incarceration, where he was facing a 10-year sentence for treason.

A judicial inquiry found that guards didn’t properly check his cell and that at least one CCTV camera wasn’t working. Central district court president, Daphna Blatman, said: "Failure by various elements in the Israel prison service caused his death."

The Israeli government has said that there was not enough evidence to bring charges over Zygier’s death.

Zygier's parents – who are leading figures in Melbourne’s Jewish
community - threatened to bring a legal case against the state of
Israel, claiming negligence and seeking compensation.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Australia Israel Media Gag Mossad Prison Prisoner X Treason