Around Asia: Indonesia recalls ambassador to Australia after spying allegations

In Other News - November 20th, 2013
Indonesian President At CIFOR

Indonesia has recalled its envoy to Canberra in protest over allegations that Australian spy agencies tapped into phone calls of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Jakarta said it was “devastated” over spying reports that allegedly targeted the president, the first lady and vice-president Boediono.

“This is an unfriendly, unbecoming act between strategic partners,” Foreign Ministry Marty Natalegawa told a news conference.

The ambassador was being called to Jakarta for “consultations,” he said, adding that Indonesia will review all cooperation with Australia as well as the placement of some Australian officials in the Indonesian capital.

He urged the Australian government to offer clarity and issue a public response.

“This was not a clever thing to do. This was not a smart thing to do. It violated every single decent and legal instrument I can think of,” the foreign minister said.

It “hasn’t been a good day in the relationship between Indonesia and Australia.”

Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, which were published by the Guardian and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, revealed that the Defense Signals Directorate (DSD) targeted phone calls of the Indonesian president’s inner circle including eight other high-profile politicians.

The documents showed that the DSD (now known as the Australian Signals Directorate) tracked Yudhoyono’s communications on his mobile phone for 15 days in August 2009.

Earlier this month, Indonesia summoned Australia’s ambassador amid reports that Australia’s Jakarta embassy was used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to apologize and insisted relations with Indonesia remained “close and strong”.

Declining to comment directly on the reports, he said that “all governments gather information and all governments know that every other government gathers information.”

By Maesie Bertumen

Image of President Yudhoyono: CIFOR/Flickr