Ben Zygier (known as Prisoner X) was the Australian-Israeli Mossad agent imprisoned at Ayalon Prison in Ramla on espionage charges who committed suicide in his cell in 2010.
The 2013 row over revelations regarding Zygier’s incarceration and suicide received saturation coverage at the Guardian, and included this claim by Peter Beaumont – then foreign affairs editor for The Observer, sister site of the Guardian – in a report on Feb. 14th.
“The latest revelations come amid a growing outcry over the case in Israel, with some comparing the treatment of Zygier to that meted out in the Soviet Union or Argentina and Chile under their military dictatorships.”
The comparison, as we noted at the time, was simply bizarre. Indeed, the very term “Prisoner X”, implying that his identity and whereabouts were mysterious, was itself a misnomer, as Zygier’s original arrest warrant was issued by an authorized court, his incarceration was supervised by the Israeli judiciary, and the proceedings were overseen by the most senior Justice Ministry officials. Zygier was also legally represented by a top Israeli lawyer.
To evoke a comparison with the USSR – where several million Soviet “enemies of the state” died (due to overwork, starvation, torture or summary executions) after being sent, without anything resembling due process, to Gulag camps – is risible.
More recently, we found another example of the media’s use of a blatantly false analogy – in an article published at i100 (The Independent’s Buzzfeed-style news brand).