News / Asia

Indonesia's President Slams Australia's Abbott over Spying Claims

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks during leaders' press conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bali, Indonesia, Oct. 8, 2013.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks during leaders' press conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bali, Indonesia, Oct. 8, 2013.
VOA News
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 tweets Tuesday, the Indonesian leader accused Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott of belittling the issue and not showing remorse for the alleged spying, which he called "hurtful."
 
Indonesia has already recalled its ambassador from Australia and said it will now review all bilateral cooperation following the revelations.
 
Prime Minister Abbott told parliament on Tuesday that he regrets any embarrassment caused to his Indonesian counterpart, but also said that 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 spying, but said that Australia gathers such information to help its allies, not to harm them.
 
Christopher Roberts of the Australian National University told VOA that the personal nature of the spying allegations has brought the diplomatic squabble to a "new level."
 
"I think it's something that will require some fairly significant diplomacy and possibly a public element from the Australian government, potentially in terms of some form of commitment of certain boundaries in the future," said Roberts.
 
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 Indonesian President Yudhoyono’s mobile phone for 15 days in 2009. At least one of the president's calls was said to be intercepted. The news agencies also said the phones of Yudhoyono's wife, Kristiani Herawati, and eight other government officials were targeted.
 
Even before the latest allegations surfaced, Australian-Indonesian relations had been under strain. Last month, Indonesia summoned the Australian ambassador in Jakarta to complain about media reports claiming the Australian embassy was part of a vast U.S.-led surveillance network.
 
Abbott has also 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.
 
Roberts, who lectures on Asian politics and security at ANU, said he believes relations will eventually improve, but the scandals are testing what has become a crucial relationship for both nations.
 
"Australia and Indonesia have worked together [on security], leading to 600 arrests in the last several years of people involved in terrorist type plots. Australia and Indonesia are cooperating on human trafficking, people smuggling… developing trade linkages, exchange programs," Roberts pointed out.
 
While it is not clear whether those programs will be affected, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalagawa suggested the Indonesian ambassador may not return to Australia for an extended period; he told the departing diplomat on Monday to pack more than just his "cabin baggage."

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More