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Indonesia angry over spying

November 18, 2013

Indonesia has recalled its ambassador from Australia following reports that a spy agency attempted to listen in on the Indonesian president. The recall comes amid an already tense diplomatic relationship.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (front L) talks to Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta September 30, 2013.
Image: Reuters

On Monday, Indonesia announced that it was reviewing its bilateral cooperation with Australia after recalling its ambassador to the country. The decision comes in response to documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor and fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, which were obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Guardian newspaper.

The report named President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (pictured above with Australian Prime minister Tony Abbott) and nine of his inner circle as targets of the surveillance.

"This is an unfriendly, unbecoming act between strategic partners," Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters.

"This isn't a smart thing to do," he said, adding that it "hasn't been a good day in the relationship between Indonesia and Australia."

Attempts were also allegedly made to target the phones of Indonesia's first lady, Kristiani Herawati.

The documents showed that Australia's electronic intelligence agency tracked Yudhoyono's mobile phone activity for 15 days in August 2009. At the time, Kevin Rudd was prime minister of Australia.

The escalating row comes amid already strained ties between the two nations over previous spying allegations and the increasingly tense issue of how to deal with asylum-seekers heading for Australia via Indonesia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to comment on the latest claims when pressed in parliament, but stressed that Indonesia was an important partner.

"I will never say or do anything that might damage the strong relationship and the close cooperation that we have with Indonesia, which is all in all our most important relationship," he said.

hc/dr (AFP, AP)

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