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State responses to state spying

F.Y. Teng | Nov. 20, 2013
Indonesia and Australia react to spying allegations due to latest Snowden leak.

The latest of Edward Snowden's leaked documents-which were published by the Guardian newspaper and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) some days ago-appear to show that Australian intelligence had tracked Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's for a two-week period in August 2009, monitoring calls he made and received and on at least one occasion trying to tap his conversation.

ABC and the Guardian published slides from a presentation by Australia's spy agency, the Defence Signals Directorate (now called the Australian Signals Directorate), one of which had a table identifying Yudhoyono, the First Lady of Indonesia Kristiani Herawati, Indonesia's Vice President Boediono and Foreign Spokesman Dino Patti Djalal, among others, as "IA Leadership Targets" and listing alongside their names the specific 3G handsets they were using.

Another slide charted Yudhoyono's "voice events" through themonth. And one other appeared to indicate that a "voice intercept" had been made, but that attempts to tap it had failed because it was "only a sub-1minute call."

On Monday (November 18, 2013), CNN reported, the Indonesian government "summoned the Australian ambassador to voice its anger at allegations that Australia tried to listen into the phone calls of" Yudhoyono. According to the same CNN report, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, when asked in parliament to comment on the reports by ABC and the Guardian said that "all governments gather information and all governments know that every other government gathers information."

It's Not Spying, It's Research
Abbott, according to the Sydney Morning Herald today (Wednesday, 20, 2013), "ignored a plea by Yudhoyono on Tuesday both for an official explanation of events of the past, and a halt to future spying on Indonesia" but instead "strengthened his stance on the issue, saying Australia gathered information 'to advance its national interests.'" Abbott had a week earlier been quoted by the BBC as describing the term 'spying' as a "kind of loaded language" and suggesting "that 'researching' would be more appropriate."


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