Israel’s Mossad spy agency is at the center of a scandal that is testing relations with Australia.
Australia is demanding information from Israel on the mysterious death of an alleged Mossad spy who held duel Australian-Israeli citizenship. The man known as “Prisoner X” reportedly committed suicide in an Israeli prison two years ago.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has ordered an investigation into the case and his department will issue a report.
“We have asked the Israeli government for a contribution to that report. We want to give them an opportunity to submit to us an explanation of how this tragic death came about.”
According to Australian media, Prisoner X hanged himself while in solitary confinement after Israel accused him of treason.
The case has caused an uproar in Australia and Israel. Questions have been asked as to how someone could commit suicide while under 24-hour surveillance at a high-security prison. Israel has maintained a blackout on many details of the case, raising criticism about Israeli censorship laws in an era when the affair was widely reported everywhere else on the Internet.
Breaking official silence on the case, Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu defended the security establishment, saying that secrecy is a necessity.
Netanyahu told his Cabinet that Israel faces threats unlike any other nation, and exposing intelligence operations can seriously compromise state security.
But Australia wants answers, especially after Mossad agents allegedly used Australian passports in the assassination of a senior operative of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Dubai in 2010. Australia angrily expelled a member of the Israeli Embassy in retaliation.
Australian media say Prisoner X used Australian passports in Mossad operations in Iran and several Arab countries. The media reports say he contacted Australian authorities and planned to expose the use of the passports in operations, prompting his arrest by Israel.