Australia spying acts to damage ties: Indonesian FM

Australia spying acts to damage ties: Indonesian FM
Mon Nov 18, 2013 18:42:26

Indonesia called back its envoy to Australia for consultations on Monday after media reported that Australia's spy agencies had tried to tap mobile phones of top officials, calling the eavesdropping an "unfriendly" act that would damage ties.

The call for the envoy to come home marks a new low in increasingly tetchy relations between the neighbors since Australia's conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, took office in September.

Indonesia was upset over earlier reports of Australian spying and differences over the heavily politicized issue of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia via Indonesia.

"We are calling our ambassador back from Canberra immediately for a consultation," Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters. "I cannot say for how long, but I told him not to carry only cabin baggage."

The Guardian newspaper and Australian Broadcasting Corp cited a secret document from 2009 leaked by U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, saying President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior officials were targeted for electronic surveillance by Australia's Defense Signals Directorate (DSD).

"It violates every single decent and legal instrument I can think of on a national level in both countries and on an international level. This is nothing less than an unfriendly act and it has a serious impact on bilateral relations," Natalegawa said.

He said Indonesia would review its cooperation on the exchange of information with Australia.

"This may entail the principle of reciprocity. So for instance, it implies there should be corresponding numbers of officials at the embassies here and in Australia who deal with intelligence," he said.

"This does not mean we are expelling anyone, I'm not privy to the exact numbers right now but we will try to have corresponding number of officials."

"Australia has systematically, one by one, violated the principles of democracy and privacy ... We've heard some clarification from Australia but we're not satisfied with their dismissive answers as if it is a matter of course in diplomatic relations to spy on other countries."

Reports last month that Australia's embassy in Indonesia had been used as part of a U.S.-led surveillance network to spy on Indonesia, prompted a stern rebuke.

Australian media reported that Australian embassies across Asia were part of the U.S.-led electronic surveillance operation, according to leaked Snowden documents.


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