Indonesia says U.S., Australian spying damaged trust

AFP-JIJI

Indonesia said reported spying by the Australian and the U.S. embassies had “hurt our trust” and it would review how it shares information with both countries.

The news Wednesday came as a senior Indonesian lawmaker demanded that the top Australian and American diplomats in the country, who have already been summoned over the spying allegations, face questions from legislation about the issue.

The espionage controversy spread to Asia last week after reports that U.S. missions across the region were being used for clandestine surveillance, and that Australian embassies and consulates were involved.

On Monday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa ratcheted up the angry rhetoric, declaring “enough is enough” and suggesting the controversy could affect cooperation between Jakarta and Canberra. And on Wednesday the government went a step further, saying the reports had “hurt our trust” in the United States and Australia, and it would now look at how it cooperates with both countries.

“As a sovereign state, Indonesia has a formal framework for cooperation with the countries in question,” said presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha. “The reports have really hurt our trust in them so Indonesia will review how we currently cooperate in exchanging information.

“This is a serious matter and we certainly hope they understand.”

But he declined to go into details and refused to say whether any formal agreements would be examined. Indonesia and Australia have such agreements in areas including people smuggling and counter-terrorism.

Agus Gumiwang, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Parliament’s commission on defence, foreign affairs and information, said he was seeking to have the top Australian and U.S. diplomats hauled in for questioning. He said he would discuss with Natalegawa the possibility of “summoning the (top diplomats) from the United States and Australia to the commission to seek an explanation.”

Australia has an ambassador in Jakarta while the United States currently has a charge d’affaires.

The escalating anger in Indonesia came as Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop denied there was a rift with Jakarta over the spying allegations as she headed Wednesday to the Bali Democracy Forum. “I don’t accept that there has been a rift,” she told ABC television late Tuesday.

The annual forum, established by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2008 to promote democracy in the Asia-Pacific, is taking place Thursday and Friday.

The reports last week of the surveillance network in the Sydney Morning Herald brought the spying scandal to Asia, after Europe-U.S. ties had already soured over the issue.