Skip to main content

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

By Sara Sidner and Michael Schwartz, CNN
updated 1:02 PM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
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
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
updated 6:12 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
From giant zippers to buttock-shaped balloons, Jun Kitagawa's public art is whimsical, erotic and playful.
updated 4:43 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Ukraine says it's forces have regained control of an airfield from Russian separatists. Nick Paton Walsh reports.
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 1:30 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Oscar Pistorius didn't consciously pull the trigger the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, the sprinter testified at his murder trial.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A mysterious new artwork has appeared in Cheltenham, where Britain's version of the NSA is located.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Like many parents across Liverpool, the McManamans waited. 25 years ago, it was all they could do.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
The Maltese Falcon makes a swift turn while at sea.
How do you design a superyacht fit for the billionaire who has everything money can buy?
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Pop art condoms in Kenya
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
updated 11:42 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
mediterranean monk seal
Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:43 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Ebola victims usually come from remote areas -- but now the lethal virus is in a city of two million.
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT