Skip to main content

Inmate found hanged in 'Prisoner X' case, document says

By Sara Sidner and Michael Schwartz, CNN
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1802 GMT (0202 HKT)
The headstone of Ben Zygier in the Chevra Kadisha Jewish Cemetery in Melbourne
The headstone of Ben Zygier in the Chevra Kadisha Jewish Cemetery in Melbourne
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Zygier "never had any connection" with Australian security services, Israel's PM says
  • Israel's parliament is investigating the case, Netanyahu urges quiet
  • Australian TV says Zygier is an Australian-Israeli dual citizen

Jerusalem (CNN) -- An inmate who died in an Israeli prison was "found hanging in the shower of his security cell," a court document released Tuesday said, the latest detail to filter out of Israel in what has become known as the "Prisoner X" case.

Read more: Israel to investigate arrest, death of 'Prisoner X'

The news emerged after an Israeli court lifted part of a gag order on the case. The document detailing the manner of death said that a sheet connected to the window of a bathroom was tied around his throat.

Who was Israel's 'Prisoner X'?
Mystery death of Israel's 'Prisoner X'

The case has stirred interest across the world.

The fate of the man dubbed "Prisoner X" is now the subject of an investigation by Israel's parliament. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded over the weekend for details to be kept quiet, warning "overexposure of security and intelligence activity" could harm Israel's security.

Israel's 'Prisoner X': Death of man with alleged spy agency links

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has identified the prisoner as Ben Zygier, an Australian-Israeli dual citizen. It reported Tuesday that he had reported "every aspect of his work" for the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

Zygier reportedly committed suicide in Israel's Ayalon Prison in December 2010, about 10 months after his arrest, according to ABC. His incarceration was a state secret, and Israel has never confirmed the prisoner's name or how he died.

ABC, citing unnamed sources, reported Tuesday that Zygier gave Australia "comprehensive detail about a number of Mossad operations, including plans for a top-secret mission in Italy that had been years in the making." Zygier helped Mossad set up a European communications company that sold electronics to Arab countries and Iran, according to the network.

He met with Australian intelligence during a trip back to Australia, ABC reported. It wasn't clear who approached whom -- but ABC said it "believes" Zygier was arrested after Mossad discovered his contact with ASIO, fearing he had given up Israeli secrets.

In a statement Tuesday, Netanyahu's office stressed that Zygier "never had any connection with the security and organizational services of Australia."

"Between Israel and all its organizations and between Australia and the Australian Security services, there is excellent cooperation, full coordination and full transparency about all the subjects on the agenda," the prime minister's office said.

It's the first time the Israeli government has identified "Prisoner X" by his real name.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 0508 GMT (1308 HKT)
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
It's hard not to be nervous, standing outside the Ebola isolation wards.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 2131 GMT (0531 HKT)
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 0440 GMT (1240 HKT)
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 2116 GMT (0516 HKT)
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 0335 GMT (1135 HKT)
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis".
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 2126 GMT (0526 HKT)
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT