Indonesia’s President Slams Australia’s Abbott over Spying Claims
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is criticizing Australia for its refusal to apologize over allegations that Australian spies listened in on his phone calls.
In a series of Twitter posts Tuesday, the Indonesian leader accused Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott of belittling the scandal and not showing remorse for the alleged spying, which he called “hurtful.”
Indonesia has already recalled its ambassador from Australia and said it will review all bilateral cooperation following the revelations.
Prime Minister Abbott on Tuesday told parliament he sincerely regrets any embarrassment the reports have caused his Indonesian counterpart, which he said is “one of the very best friends that we have anywhere in the world.”
But Mr. Abbott said Australia “should not be expected to apologize” for what he called “steps taken to protect our country.” The Australian leader has not confirmed or denied the reports, but says Australia gathers such information to help its friends and allies, and not to harm them.
On Monday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalagawa announced the recall of his country’s ambassador from Australia for consultations. He said he advised the Indonesian diplomat to bring more than just “cabin baggage,” suggesting the recall may be prolonged.
The spying allegations first appeared in reports by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian newspaper, which based their stories on secret documents leaked by ex-U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The reports said the documents show Australian intelligence agents tracked activity on the mobile phone of Indonesian President Yudhoyono for 15 days in 2009.
The reports said the Snowden leaks also show that Australian spies intercepted at least one call involving Mr. Yudhoyono and tapped the phones of his wife Kristiani Herawati and eight other government officials.
Australian-Indonesian relations have been under strain for weeks. Indonesia summoned the Australian ambassador in Jakarta last month to complain about media reports claiming the diplomat’s embassy was part of a vast U.S.-led surveillance network.
Mr. Abbott also has upset many Indonesians by ordering his government to turn boats of Australia-bound asylum seekers back to Indonesia. He introduced the policy after taking office in September.