Indonesia has recalled its ambassador to Australia, after it was revealed that Australian spies have targeted the phone calls of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and tried to listen in to private conversations.
The Guardian and the ABC have obtained documents that show Australian intelligence tried to listen in on Mr Yudhoyono’s phone conversations, as well as tracking activity on his mobile phone.
The revelations come at a bad time, as tensions are already running high after claims that the Australian embassy in Jakarta was also involved in spying on Indonesia.
The Government has tried to downplay these accusations, but Indonesia’s foreign minister – Marty Natalegawa – has recalled the Indonesian ambassador from Canberra.
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.”
On top of this, Mr Natalegawa has announced that his country will be reviewing all current agreements with Australia, and reconsidering the positions of Australian officials in the country.
A spokesperson to the Indonesian president said, “The damage has been done and now trust must be rebuilt” – and called on the Australian government to clarify the news, in order to avoid further damage to relations between the two countries.
According to notes on the documents obtained by the ABC and The Guardian, the calls made by President Yudhoyono were less than a minute long – and so were not successfully taped. However, the document also revealed that other spy targets included Hatta Rajasa, the former state secretary.
The Prime Minister Tony Abbott was questioned during Question Time today about the revelations, and responded by saying that, “All governments gather information and all governments know that every other government gathers information.”
He continued, “The Australian Government never comments on specific intelligence matters. This has been the long tradition of governments of both political persuasions and I don’t intend to change that today.
“I should also say that the Australian Government uses all the resources at its disposal, including information to help our friends and our allies, not to harm them,” the Prime Minister said.