Prisoner X2: Second Israeli agent secretly locked away on ‘sensational’ charges

Prisoner X2: Second Israeli agent secretly locked away on ‘sensational’ charges
Israel secretly locked away a second 'Prisoner X' for a grave offense in the same high security prison where a former Mossad agent spy took his own life in 2010, court documents cleared for publication revealed.

The existence of “Prisoner X2” came to light following the release of a memorandum on Monday by the Justice Ministry regarding a former secret detainee, Australian Ben Zygier. Zygier, who was dubbed “Prisoner X” by the media, was a former Mossad agent who was accused of betraying Israel’s national intelligence agency. He committed suicide while incarcerated in Ayalon Prison.

Avigdor Feldman, a lawyer who specializes in matters of national security that formerly advised Zygier, confirmed in a radio interview the existence of a second detainee whom he called “Prisoner X2,” Reuters reported.

Feldman provided little information on the second inmate, apart from the fact he was a Jewish male with Israeli citizenship who worked for the government’s security services. He said the designation “Prisoner X” is used to identify Israeli inmates who “work in institutions linked to security whose activities are shrouded in secrecy."

When asked how the second Prisoner X’s alleged offenses stacked up next to Zygier’s, Feldman told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM that they were “Much more grave. Much more sensational. Much more amazing. Much more riveting.”

According to the court document, the second prisoner has already been convicted - although the nature of his crime remains unknown. It is also unclear whether he is still incarcerated.

‘Prisoner X2’ was being held in Ayalon Prison’s Block 13. Like Zygier, his case was being handled by the Shin Bet internal security service and the prison's intelligence officers, Haaretz reported after obtaining a copy of the document. 

In this photo illustration taken in Sydney on February 14, 2013, a woman poses with an Australian newspaper showing the front page story of Ben Zygier, as Israel confirms it jailed a foreigner in solitary confinement on security grounds who later committed suicide, with Australia admitting it knew one of its citizens had been detained. (AFP Photo/William West)

Zygier was referred to as "Prisoner X" before the Australian media managed to identify him in February - despite the great lengths Israel went to cover up his existence and the reason for his imprisonment. He was found hanged in a supposedly suicide-proof cell in Block 15 on December 15, 2010. 

Zehava Gal-On, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, recalled that when she brought up Zygier in a parliamentary question, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich told her that "there are no anonymous prisoners in Israel," the Jerusalem Post reports.

"The revelation that there is another secret prisoner is serious and worrying," Gal-On wrote on Facebook. "In a democracy, there cannot be secret prisoners, with no outside supervision of where and under what conditions they are held."

Feldman said the case of Prisoner X2 pointed toward even graver failures by the defense establishment than that of Zygier, who according to unconfirmed reports, betrayed Mossad operations in Dubai or Lebanon - potentially leading to the capture of Israeli agents abroad.

“Regarding Zygier's case, the authorities that recruited him didn't understand who they were dealing with and weren't aware of his conduct. Okay - that's a failure. Prisoner X number two is an entirely different story - a horrible security breach,” Haaretz quoted Feldman as saying.

“When I heard the story, as an Israeli citizen I was shocked, and the subject was completely silenced by lawyers who enjoy close ties with the establishment. Whoever opens this affair will be doing the country a great service."