Knesset committee to investigate Prisoner X incident


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Knesset committee will investigate the incarceration and death of the dual Australian-Israeli citizen known as Prisoner X.

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for Intelligence announced Sunday that it would conduct an "intensive examination" of the incident involving Ben Zygier.

Also Sunday, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said his government will hold an independent investigation into Zygier’s case and that Australia has asked the Israeli government "for a contribution to that report."

Earlier Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the incident for the first time.

"The security and intelligence forces of the State of Israel operate under the full supervision of the legal authorities, which are completely independent. With this combination of maintaining security and maintaining the law, we will also maintain freedom of expression," he said. "However, the overexposure of security and intelligence activity could harm, sometimes severely, state security."

"We are an exemplary democracy and maintain the rights of those under investigation and individual rights no less than any other country. However, we are more threatened and face more challenges; therefore, we must maintain proper activity of our security agencies. And therefore, I ask all of you, let the security forces do their work quietly so that we can continue to live in security and tranquility in the State of Israel."

Zygier, who was known as Prisoner X as well as Ben Alon, was the subject of an expose by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s "Foreign Correspondent" program, which reported Feb. 12 that he was jailed in early 2010 and apparently committed suicide in the high-security Ayalon Prison near Tel Aviv. The report suggested that he worked with Israel’s Mossad secret service.

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