Foreign Minister Bob Carr has criticised as ”unsatisfactory” Australian authorities’ handling of the case of Melbourne man Ben Zygier – known as prisoner X – who killed himself in an Israeli prison in 2010.
Releasing the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s internal report into the management of the case, Senator Carr on Wednesday confirmed for the first time that Mr Zygier was working for the Israeli government but refused to say whether it was Mossad.
Senator Carr also warned that Australia will express outrage if it emerges that in the course of Mr Zygier’s intelligence work, Australian passports – of which Mr Zygier held several – were being effectively abused by Israel.
Senator Carr said that his department’s report revealed a ”lack of clarity” in decision-making about the dual Australia-Israeli citizen’s consular access.
”The Zygier case was complex and outside the normal bounds of consular activity,” Senator Carr said in a statement.
”However it is unsatisfactory that there was a lack of clarity over the exercise of consular responsibilities.
”It is also unsatisfactory that details of assistance provided by Israeli authorities to Mr Zygier were not sought by or provided to DFAT until the commissioning of this report.”
In his press conference, Senator Carr said Australia would express its concerns to Israel if it turned out Australian passports were being used for espionage activities.
”We won’t settle for Australian passports being abused in this way,” he said.
During the press conference though, Senator Carr effectively acknowledged that Mr Zygier was indeed working for Mossad.
Mr Zygier, a husband and father of two, moved to Israel from Australia around 2000.
Senator Carr has previously said the Australia government was informed in February 2010 through intelligence channels that Israeli authorities had detained Mr Zygier. However, he said, at no stage during his detention did the government receive any request from Mr Zygier or his family for consular help.
Mr Zygier was found dead in the high-security jail in December that year. The embassy then helped with the repatriation of Mr Zygier’s body.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.