Israelis discovered early this month, to their surprise, that in one of its prisons there is a second Prisoner X held in complete secrecy. He is been dubbed X2 in the Israeli media.
The various security agencies have already started accusing one another of leaking the case. The sheer existence of Prisoner X2 was considered to be one of the most kept secrets in Israel, protected even by secret court gag orders.
All of the details of the new affair are still clouded in secrecy. But one fact is clear. The leakage is a result of negligence by one or more government agencies that failed to properly protect perhaps the most significant piece of classified information.
This happens just a few months after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation broke the sensational news that a previous Prisoner X (now known as X1) was Ben Zygier, an Australian-born Jew. Zygier worked for five years for the Mossad in operations directed against Iran. In March 2010 he was arrested on suspicion of espionage and treason. While in his highly guarded cell at the Ayalon prison in Ramla, half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, waiting for his trial, he committed suicide in December 2010.
The roots of the leakage can be traced to the time after the suicide of Zygier. The Israeli police opened a secret investigation that determined that he indeed put an end to his life and was not murdered. The investigation also dealt with the question of whether his jailers showed negligence in their duty to monitor him around the clock. The conclusion was that some jailers showed incompetence and did not fulfill their duty.
One paragraph in the secret police report stated that Israel Prison Service did not follow in the Zygier case its own procedures with regards to protecting and monitoring of special prisoners who are charged with security offences while they did so in another case of a prisoner who was held under similar circumstances in the same prison though in a different wing. This is Prisoner X2 whose name or other details were not mentioned in the police report. The report was sealed and handed over to a judge who was appointed to reach her own independent findings in the Zygier case.
The judge, Daphna Blatman Kardaei, presiding over the central magistrate court, invited all involved parties for her hearings including lawyers who represented Zygier when he was still alive and after his death represented his wife and parents. The lawyers demanded in writing that those in the security services and the prison guards be punished for negligence. They based their demand on the police findings and cited the paragraph in the police report that mentioned prisoner X2.
Until February 2013 all the police and judicial investigations were held behind closed doors. The public did not know about what was happening while the press was prevented from reporting about it by gag orders and military censorship. But then came the Australian television program that opened a Pandora’s box.