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More than leaks behind Zygier arrest: ex-foreign minister

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A suspected Mossad agent known as Prisoner X would have had to do more than just share information with Australia's intelligence services to end up in jail in Israel, a former Australian foreign minister said Tuesday.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) cited sources Monday as saying Australian-Israeli Ben Zygier was arrested in Israel after giving Australian intelligence officials a comprehensive account of a number of operations by the Israeli spy agency.

But the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported that former foreign minister Alexander Downer told ABC Radio: "I suspect it was something more serious than just sharing information with ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation)."

Downer also said he had warned Israel's foreign minister between 2005 and 2007 that Mossad should not use either real or fake Australian passports in overseas operations.

According to the ABC, which broke the news of Prisoner X's identity last week, Zygier was found hanged in his cell in Ayalon prison near Tel Aviv in December 2010 in a case Israel went to extreme lengths to cover up.

Israel's parliament has said it will launch an "intensive" inquiry into Zygier's arrest.

The Australian foreign ministry has said it is preparing a report looking at communications with Israel, including between their respective security agencies, and that it has asked the Israeli government to contribute.

The Australian Jewish community said it hoped investigations into the death would end speculation about the case, the AAP reported.

"We look forward to the official inquiries publishing concrete information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ben Zygier in the hope that it will put further rumour and speculation to rest and bring some comfort to his still-grieving family and friends," Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said in a statement.

Zygier, who immigrated to Israel around 2001, is believed to have been arrested in February 2010. He was found hanged in his cell 10 months later despite being under 24-hour surveillance.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130219/more-leaks-behind-zygier-arrest-ex-foreign-minister