SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Ben Zygier, the suspected Israeli spy known as Prisoner X, leaked sensitive information about Israel’s espionage operations against Iran, according to a new book.
In “Prisoner X,” the code name given to Zygier after he was taken and imprisoned by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency in early 2010, Australian journalist Rafael Epstein claimed that Zygier, an Australia native, revealed intelligence about operations he had been involved in to an Iranian businessman at Monash University in Melbourne in 2009.
“It was this Iranian who played a key role in his downfall,” Epstein wrote in an exclusive excerpt published in The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers Saturday. “Put simply, Ben said too much to the wrong person at the wrong time.”
Epstein’s thesis contradicts media reports claiming that in 2008, Zygier flew independently to Eastern Europe in a bid to turn a Hezbollah associate into a double agent. But his apparent attempt to prove his worth to his Mossad superiors reportedly backfired and he allegedly exposed two Lebanese nationals working for the spy agency.
Epstein believes Zygier not only revealed to the Iranian businessman that he once worked for the Mossad, but divulged “details of the operations against Iran in which he’d been personally involved.”
Although Zygier did not have a senior role in the operations against Iran, he had “worked for a Milan-based satellite company that had operations across Africa and the Middle East, he had been to Tehran, and he knew plenty about what the Mossad was trying to do,” Epstein wrote.
“It comes as no surprise, then, that when Ben babbled in Melbourne, the Mossad heard about it in Tel Aviv via Tehran,” according to Epstein.