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Abalinx 14 February 2013
It is bad enough when an Australian dies alone in his own country. It is worse when he or she dies alone in a foreign country, forgotten even by his own government. Even though Prisoner X (now identified as Ben Zygier) took on a dual Israeli citizenship does not absolve the Australian Foreign Affairs Department for failing to pass on the information up higher for further discussion. This is not the first time such matters are being brought to the public eye and one wonders just what exactly are our government departments doing to support our citizens overseas.
One can argue that what an Australian citizens does overseas is his or her business as long as the ,laws of Australia are not broken. What is the difference with the Hicks case and that of Zygier or that of other countless people serving time in foreign jails. Are our politicians far too afraid of upsetting their constituents because of an electoral back lash or because their electorate is manly populated by one group whose origins mirror that of a foreign country. Should our recalcitrant citizens complete their time back in Australian jail systems after being judged in the country where they had erred. The world has not reached that stage yet, but with globalisation, who knows.
Australia may not appear to have a good history of looking after its citizens when they need their country the most. People stuck in Iran, Lebanon, China, ex soldier rotting in an Afghan jail, People hung in Malaysia, and our nearest neighbour Indonesia. But then again, in fairness to Australia whose hands are tied. Each Australian citizen knows the penalty of abiding by the laws of the countries they visit. DFAT are always advising Australians to be aware of the customs and the dangers when travelling overseas.
The Zygier case is not about Israel or Mossad but merely a point in question reading the adequacy of our own departments that handle such matters. Again the argument is put whether Australians need to die alone, forgotten and no one to worry about them. Do we not have a system in place that can periodically check on its citizens abroad once per year perhaps in order to ensure that their well being is being catered for. It is not a crime to have such systems in place, although some organisations may believe that it is going too far.
It is felt that the case surrounding Zygier has yet to be unraveled and only with time will the real truth be known. By that time the generation that cared the most would have long gone and the lessons that could have been learnt have failed to be utilised and fade away as a distant memory. Prisoner X or Zygier, whatever is best suited to describe a man who has died alone should not be forgotten for he was an Australian. We as Australians need to become more conscious and water of the dangers faced by travelers once we leave the safety of Australian shores. No one needs to die alone no ,matter what their crime is.
Since the original article was made public in 2010 (See below) , additional media coverage of the Zygier case has come to light from Australian and Israeli sources. Much of it appears to place Ben Zygier in a negative light. However despite whatever the media may print, the public has a right to know, after all he was an Australian citizen and what more could you want when the young has been buried in his place of birth, Australia. this alone should account for something and that Australia despite their overseas activities should not be taken lightly or used to meet the objectives of a foreign power unless t is in the interest of Australia.
It is a well known fact in any organisation when faced with negative publicity as a direct result of an inside individual’s actions or deeds who exposes or puts at risk the organisations credibility. The immediate action would be to ridicule the individual by the destruction of their profile publicly and appearing that the individuals work was below that expected and brand them as a rogue employee. The individuals life would spiral downwards unless he or she had support, otherwise the enormity of it could have negative consequences.
Sound familiar? It would appear from the material of articles found below that is exactly what has occurred in the case of young Ben Zygier. As any parent dreads, the loss of a child before their demise is the worst that can happen and in the case of the Zygier family, one can only guess what has been tormenting them past two years of not knowing what truly happened. Let us hope that some sanity can come out of all of this and that lessons are learnt. A Voice from the pavement.
A detailed history of the Ben Zygier (Prisoner X in PDF format may be download by clicking on the following compilation of articles:
Prisoner X is Australian
ZYGIER TRAGEDY MORE THAN SIMPLY A SPY MYSTERY
Israel denies payments to family of Prisoner X
Zygier arrested after leaking Mossad work to ASIOZygier suicide remains mysteryPrisoner X killed by Mossad for leak to Australian securityMore details trickle out about Israels Prisoner X aka Ben ZygierBen Zygier was no traitor he was betrayed
ORIGINAL ARTICLE 2010
ASIO TARGETS NEW SPY SUSPECTS
February 27, 2010 Jason Koutsoukis
ASIO is investigating at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens who they suspect of using Australian cover to spy for Israel. The investigation began at least six months before last month’s assassination of the Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have been carried out by the Israeli security agency Mossad. Authorities in Dubai have revealed that three people suspected of taking part in the assassination were travelling on Australian passports, using the names of three dual Australian-Israeli citizens. The three Australian names linked to the assassination are in no way connected to the three people being investigated by ASIO.
According to two Australian intelligence sources who have been in contact with the Herald, the three men under surveillance all emigrated to Israel within the last decade. Each has travelled back to Australia at different times to legally change their names and obtain new Australian passports. One of the men has changed his surname three times, the other two have changed theirs twice. The men have changed their names from surnames that could be read as European-Jewish to ones more typically identified as Anglo-Australian.
Australian citizens are generally allowed to change their name once every 12 months, as long as it is not for criminal reasons. The new passports have been used to gain entry to a number of countries that are hostile to Israel including Iran, Syria and Lebanon. All three do not recognise Israel and forbid Israelis from entering. Israel also forbids its citizens from travelling to those countries for security reasons. The Herald understands that the three Australians share an involvement with a European communications company that has a subsidiary in the Middle East. A person travelling under one of these names sought Australian consular assistance in Tehran in 2004.
The Herald has contacted two of the men, both of whom emphatically denied they were involved in any kind of espionage activity. Both men confirmed they had changed their surnames, but said that the proposition they had done so in order to obtain new documents to travel throughout the Middle East were, in the words of one, “totally absurd”. “This is a complete fantasy,” said the man when contacted in Israel. “I have changed my name for personal reasons.” The other man, who was not in Israel when contacted, expressed shock at the suggestion he was under any kind of surveillance and said that he had also changed his name for personal reasons.
“I have never been to any of those countries that you say I have been to,” he said. ”I am not involved in any kind of spying. That is ridiculous.” The same man is also believed to hold British citizenship, and is believed to have come to the attention of British intelligence after he had changed his name. In January the Herald visited the offices of the European company that connects the three men. The company’s office manager confirmed to the Herald that one of the men being monitored by ASIO – the same man believed to hold a British passport – was employed by the company but was “unavailable”.
The company’s chief executive later emphatically denied that this man was ever employed by his company, and totally rejected that his company was being used to gather intelligence on behalf of Israel. ASIO said it had no comment to make on the case. Meanwhile, the government confronted Israel for a second time yesterday over the Dubai plot, with the acting ambassador in Tel Aviv, Nicoli Maning-Campbell, conveying the government’s concerns to officials in Israel. The Israeli embassy in Canberra said it had relayed Australia’s demands to Israel but would not comment.with Jonathan Pearlman