News / Asia

Indonesia, China Demand US Answer Spy Allegations

FILE - An armed Indonesian police officer stands guard at the gate of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
FILE - An armed Indonesian police officer stands guard at the gate of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
VOA News
New allegations have emerged about the extent of U.S. surveillance in Asia.

Media reports, relying on recent documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, indicate the U.S. embassy in Jakarta was used for spying on its president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.  

They indicate the U.S. embassy houses wiretapping equipment that has been used to monitor other Indonesian leaders.

The NSA documents also reveal that Australia has allowed covert NSA programs to operate in its embassies in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and East Timor.

The documents describe the facilities as carefully concealed within embassy compounds.  

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has summoned America’s top diplomat in Jakarta to clarify the allegations.
 
It says the activities would not only qualify as security breaches, but also as a serious ‘violation of diplomatic norms and ethics.

The top U.S. official at the embassy, (Deputy Chief of Mission Kristen Bauer) who was summoned by the foreign ministry, declined to comment.

The uproar over U.S. spying follows previous criticism from China, Russia and India that the United States has too much control over infrastructure in the cyber sphere.
 
In Beijing Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying demanded the United States explain its use of Australian embassies for spying.

"China is concerned about the reports very seriously and is asking the explanation and clarification from the United States," he said. "We are also asking foreign institutes and personnel in China to comply with such International treaties as The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, not to engage any activities that are odd with their identity and status and harmful to China’s security and interests."

This week Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that in 2011, the NSA asked the Japanese government to help it access fiber optic cables carrying communications from China. The report said Japanese officials refused over concerns it would violate Japanese wiretap laws.   

Indonesia is a key regional ally of the United States, particularly as a diplomatic counter to China’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Other U.S. allies have expressed outrage over reports about the extent of U.S. surveillance of foreign leaders.  
 
The State Department has declined to respond to specific claims, saying only that reviews of intelligence gathering will be complete by the end of the year.
 
But the revelations of the extent of the National Security Agency’s overseas activities have brought to light how some U.S. allies participate in spying.

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