The mother of all mysteries, making Stuxnet look like a B-grade movie, is unfolding in Israel over Prisoner X.

The New York Times has a good summary:

The story had all the trappings of a spy thriller: an anonymous prisoner linked to Israel’s secret service, Mossad, isolated in a top-security wing originally built for the assassin of a prime minister. A suicide — or was it a murder? — never officially reported. A gag order that barred journalists from even acknowledging the gag order. And a code name to rival 007: Prisoner X….

The Australian report, a half-hour segment based on a 10-month investigation that was broadcast Tuesday on the ABC News magazine program “Foreign Correspondent,” identified Prisoner X as Ben Zygier and said he had used the name Ben Alon in Israel. Mr. Zygier immigrated to Israel about a decade before his death at age 34, married an Israeli woman and had two small children, according to the report.

“ABC understands he was recruited by spy agency Mossad,” read a post on the Australian network’s Web site. “His incarceration was so secret that it is claimed not even guards knew his identity.” Mr. Zygier “was found hanged in a cell with state-of-the-art surveillance systems that are installed to prevent suicide,” it said, adding that guards tried unsuccessfully to revive him and that he was buried a week later in a Jewish cemetery in a suburb of Melbourne.

DEBKAfile notes that the reporting only raises questions, with few answers:

ABC reporters left no stone unturned to discover the reason for the extraordinary cover-up by the Israeli government….

A senior Israeli intelligence official, who remained anonymous, told Australian TV that if what Ben Zygier did and knew were made public, it would pose an immediate threat to Israel as a nation state….

The Australian new investigators assumed that whatever crime or sin Ben Zygier committed, it must have involved espionage, possibly treachery, and very, very sensitive information endangering Israel. Still, despite their best professional efforts, ABC’s reporters did not find a single lead to the mysterious story of Prisoner X or verify any wild conjectures.

The Australian Broadcasting Company broke the story, here’s the report (transcript here):

 
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