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Australia spied on Indonesia President Yudhoyono

Indonesia is recalling its ambassador to Australia over allegations that Canberra spied on phone calls of the Indonesian president.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first lady and Vice-President Boediono were reportedly amongst those targeted.

The allegations came from documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden which were published by broadcaster ABC and the Guardian newspaper.

Indonesia said the ambassador was being called to Jakarta for “consultations”.

It is the latest in a series of spying allegations that have strained relations between the two allies.

On 1 November Indonesia summoned Australia’s ambassador amid reports that Australia’s Jakarta embassy was used as part of a US-led spying network in Asia.

The latest leaked document showed that Australia spy agencies named Mr Yudhoyono, the first lady, Vice-President Boediono and other senior ministers as targets for monitoring, the reports said.

The presentation from Australian spy agency the Defence Signals Directorate (now known as the Australian Signals Directorate) showed that agencies attempted to listen to Mr Yudhoyono’s calls at least once, and tracked calls made to and from his mobile phone, in August 2009, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Guardian added.

The news organisations published slides from the presentation, which appeared to show a list of Indonesian “leadership targets” and the handset models used by each target, as well as a diagram of “voice events” of the Indonesian president in August 2009.

One slide entitled “Indonesian President voice intercept (August ’09)” appeared to show an attempt to listen to the content of a phone call to Mr Yudhoyono.


On Monday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said: “This is an unfriendly, unbecoming act between strategic partners.”

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

Indonesia was reviewing all of its agreements related to information exchange with Australia, Mr Natalegawa added.

Djoko Suyanto, Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs, told the BBC that Jakarta would summon the Australian ambassador for questioning.

However, Sofyan Djalil, the former minister for state-owned enterprises whose name was also on the list of targets, told AFP news agency: “Diplomatic relations always have their ups and downs. This has caused anger in the short-term, but in the long-term we are still neighbours and I think we will overcome this.”

Earlier on Monday, responding to questions in parliament, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “The Australian government never comments on specific intelligence matters.”

He added: “I will never say or do anything that might damage the strong relationship and the close co-operation that we have with Indonesia, which is all in all, our most important relationship.”

Last week, commenting on the earlier claims, Mr Abbott had described the term spying as “kind of loaded language” and suggested that “researching” would be more appropriate.

Indonesia has publicly voiced anger over previous allegations of Australian spying.

Vice-President Boediono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said last week that the Indonesian public were “concerned” about the spying allegations.

“I think we must look forward to come to some arrangement which guarantees that intelligence information from each side is not used against the other,” he said.

Australia and Indonesia are key allies and trading partners.

Australia requires Indonesia’s co-operation on the asylum issue, as many asylum seekers travel via Indonesia to Australia by boat, but there are tensions on the issue.

Earlier this month, Indonesia declined an Australian request to receive a boat of asylum seekers whose vessel, bound for Australia’s Christmas Island, had got into trouble after it departed from Indonesia.

The reports are amongst the series of documents leaked by ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is wanted in the US in connection with the unauthorised disclosures.