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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid