3:36 pm - Tuesday December 12, 2017

Spying row: Jakarta stalls cooperation with Canberra on refugees

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Spying row: Jakarta stalls cooperation with Canberra on refugees
Spying row: Jakarta stalls cooperation with Canberra on refugees

Indonesian police said on Monday that they had suspended cooperation with their Australian counterparts to combat people smuggling because of a dispute over spying allegations.

Indonesia has already withdrawn its ambassador from Australia and halted some military cooperation over reports that Canberra’s intelligence services tapped the mobile phone of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and aides in 2009.

“I have suspended cooperation on combating trafficking in persons and people smuggling with AFP (Australian Federal Police),” said national police chief Sutarman, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Canberra has sought Jakarta’s cooperation in stopping refugee boats from sailing to Australia, often with the help of smugglers.

“We will take action against any violation in our jurisdiction but if people want to go there (Australia), it’s not our job (to stop them),” Mr Sutarman said.

President Yudhoyono last week accused Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott of making light of the spying issue by saying “all governments gather information.” Mr Abbott said Saturday he had replied to a letter from Mr Yudhoyono demanding an explanation on the spying claims. The contents of the message have not been made public.

Australia is alleged to have logged Mr Yudhoyono’s mobile traffic for a 15-day period in 2009.

The claim was made by Australian broadcaster ABC, citing documents made available by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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