You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

World

  • Japan earthquake causes injuries, collapses homes
    TOKYO – A strong earthquake late Saturday struck a mountainous area of central Japan that hosted the 1998 winter Olympics, knocking down at least 10 homes in a ski resort town and injuring several people, officials said.
  • Kerry says gaps remain in talks about Iran’s nukes
    VIENNA – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned of “serious gaps” in talks about a nuclear deal with Iran, but as Monday’s deadline approached his German counterpart said Tehran and six world powers have
  • Mali: New Ebola case confirmed, 2 more suspected
    BAMAKO, Mali – Mali on Saturday confirmed a new case of Ebola and said two more suspected patients are being tested, raising concern about a further spread of the disease which has already killed at least five people in the country.
Advertisement
Associated Press
Security officers stand guard at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Indonesia summons Aussie ambassador over spy claim

– Australia’s ambassador met with Indonesian government officials who summoned him Friday following reports the Australian Embassy in Jakarta is a hub for Washington’s secret electronic data collection program.

A document from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, published this week by German magazine Der Spiegel, describes a signals intelligence program called “Stateroom” in which U.S., British, Australian and Canadian embassies house surveillance equipment to collect electronic communications. Those countries, along with New Zealand, have an intelligence-sharing agreement known as “Five Eyes.”

The Australian embassy in Jakarta was listed as one of the embassies involved in a report from Australia’s Fairfax media, along with Australian embassies in Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili in East Timor; and High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Des Ball, a top Australian intelligence expert, told The Associated Press he had personally seen covert antennas in five of the embassies named in the report.

Indonesia’s government dubbed such actions “a serious breach of diplomatic norms and ethics” and summoned Australian Ambassador Greg Moriarty to a meeting with the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General Budi Bowoleksono on Friday.

“From my perspective it was a good meeting and now I have to go and report directly to my government,” Moriarty said afterward.

The reports sparked an outcry from governments across Asia, with officials calling on the U.S. and its allies to explain themselves. The embassy spying allegations follow other reports that the U.S. has spied on the telephone communications of as many as 35 foreign leaders.

“China is severely concerned about the reports, and demands a clarification and explanation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Friday the allegations were deeply concerning and unacceptable.

“Countries may have capacities, technical capacities, to intercept and to carry out the activity that’s been reported, and information may have been gathered,” he told reporters in Perth, Australia, where he is attending a conference. “But the cost – in terms of trust, in terms of the damage – that may be resulting, is something that we must all reflect on.”

According to the Snowden document, the spying sites are small in size and staff. “They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned,” it said. The surveillance equipment is concealed, including antennas that are “sometimes hidden in false architectural features or roof maintenance sheds,” the document said.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said only that the government had not broken any laws.

Still, there was predictable outrage in the countries named in the document.

Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his government viewed the allegations as a serious matter and would investigate whether the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was being used for spying. The country’s opposition party issued a statement Thursday urging the Malaysian government to lodge a protest with both the U.S. and Australian embassies.

Thailand’s National Security Council Secretary-General, Lt. Gen. Paradorn Pattanathabutr, said the government told the U.S. that spying was a crime under Thai laws, and that Thailand would not cooperate if asked to help eavesdrop.

Asked about the Australian embassy allegations, he said Australians are not capable of doing such sophisticated surveillance work.

“When it comes to technology and mechanics, the U.S. is more resourceful and more advanced than Australia,” he said. “So I can say that it is not true that the Australian embassy will be used as a communications hub for spying.”

–––

Associated Press writers Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok, Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Sean Yoong in Kuala Lumpur and researcher Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to this report.

Advertisement