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Netanyahu backs Israel spies as Australia probes mystery death

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Netanyahu backs Israel spies as Australia probes mystery death


Israel’s prime minister has warned against media “overexposure” of the intelligence services. He was responding to the case of an Israeli-Australian found dead at this jail in December 2010.

Prisoner X, as he was known, was identified by Australian media as Ben Zygier, said to have been a Mossad agent. Israel arrested the 34-year-old in February that year for what it called serious national security reasons, and said he later killed himself in his cell.

Benjamin Netanyahu said the media spotlight can damage state security.

“Israel is more threatened, and has more challenges (than other countries), and therefore we have to ensure the proper operation of our security branches,” the prime minister said.

“I ask everyone to let the security services continue working quietly so that we can live in safety and tranquillity in the State of Israel,” he added.

Israel itself has used gagging orders to restrict reporting of the case.

Australia, which is investigating its own diplomatic handling of Zygier’s imprisonment and death, has asked Israel for more explanation over the circumstances.

There has been speculation that Israel suspected him of betraying Mossad missions.

In 2010, Australia and Dubai accused Israel over the use of forged Australian passports in an operation to kill a Hamas leader.

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