Ben Zygier -- known until recently only as Prisoner X -- was a desk-bound underling at Mossad who hatched a plan to try to convert a man with ties to Hezbollah to be a double-agent for Israel. But in the process Zygier, who was born in Australia and emigrated to Israel as a child, gave the target of his mission information identifying two of Mossad's best intelligence sources in Lebanon, McClatchey Newspapers said Monday.
The sources were arrested by the Lebanese government and sentenced to 15 years each in prison.
Zygier was held in solitary confinement at Israel's highest security prison under such a cloud of intrigue even guards didn't know his identity until after he died in prison by allegedly committing suicide. Rumors swirled he was a double agent or had tried selling state secrets to Iran, McClatchy said.
Further adding to the intrigue, the Israeli media was forbidden from reporting on the issue by the government. An international investigation undertaken by Fairfax Media, an Australian newspaper company, and the German magazine Der Spiegel, quoting anonymous sources within the Israeli government, uncovered Zygier's identity and back story.