Australian spy agencies had tried to tap into Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s phone calls, and had also sought to tap into his wife’s and his senior ministers’ phones, according to recent Australian reports that had cited the notorious documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Quoting information from a secret document dated 2009, the Guardian Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation both reported that President Yudhoyono, his family, and his government’s officials were targeted for electronic surveillance by the Defense Signals Directorate, or DSD. It is believed that this big reveal may lead to more tensions between Australia and Indonesia; earlier, it was reported separately that the Australian embassies in Indonesia and other Asian countries had been used by an American-led spy network to spy on the country. These reports also cited Snowden’s leaked documents as their primary source. Further, Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott had recently proposed refusing asylum-seekers coming in through Indonesia via boat, thus making relations between both countries testy well before the revelation of the new documents.
The “new” leaks from the Snowden files included a slide presentation with a list of mobile phone numbers belonging to top Indonesian officials, as well as the brand and type of cell phone each of the individuals own – interestingly, a lot of the names on that particular slide are those of people believed to be in line to replace Yudhoyono in the next presidential elections. The slide show also showed how Australia’s DSD had tried to spy on a phone call made from an unknown number in Thailand to President Yudhoyono. Also in there were complete call data records from Yudhoyono’s cell phone, covering exactly 15 days in August 2009 in a slide entitled “Indonesian President voice events.”
Officials from both parties declined to comment thus far on the matter, as both sides remained cagey when asked by Reuters about this sensitive topic. “It is the established practice of successive Australian governments not to comment on intelligence matters,” said an Australia Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman in a prepared statement. This was followed by Abbott himself seemingly dancing around the subject when speaking to Question Time. “First of all, all governments gather information and all governments know that every other government gathers information,” he said earlier today. “The Australian government never comments on specific intelligence matters. This has been the long tradition of governments of both political persuasions and I don’t intend to change that today.” A few days prior to the reveal, Abbott had praised the Indonesian government, saying that he is glad Australia has such a “close, cooperative, and constructive” relationship with Indonesia’s government.