Wed, Jun 08, 2005 - Page 5 News List

New terror hoax angers Jakarta

SECOND THREAT Indonesia raised the level of anger in its response to the latest package of harmless white powder to be sent to the nation's embassy in Canberra


Australian Federal Police take a decontamination shower at the Indonesian embassy in Canberra yesterday during the second security alert in a week.


Indonesia yesterday condemned as a "terror threat" the second security hoax at its Australian embassy in Canberra in a week, amid growing resentment towards its neighbor's obsession with a young Australian woman jailed in Bali on drugs charges.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said the incident was "part of a wave of threat of terror" against Indonesia.

Australian police sealed off Indonesia's Canberra mission earlier yesterday following the discovery of a package that Wirayuda said contained white powder similar to a substance that caused an alert at the embassy last week.

Police said that tests on both substances showed that they were benign.

There has been widespread public outrage in Australia after an Indonesian court jailed Schapelle Corby, 27, who was caught with 4.1kg of marijuana stuffed in her luggage at Bali's airport.

Many of Corby's supporters, who back her claim that she was the victim of an international smuggling syndicate, have threatened to boycott Bali as a holiday destination and have demanded the return of aid for Indonesian tsunami victims.

On Monday, police in Bali said they were investigating a suspicious letter sent to a leading judge in the court that convicted Corby.

Wirayuda said the latest incident would not harm the often rocky ties between Indonesia and Australia, which began improving when Canberra offered help in the wake of the October 2002, Bali bombings in which 88 Australians died.

"Actions such as this one will not intimidate our bilateral relations. We condemn this type of action," he said.

The Australian reaction to Corby's sentence has, however, stirred resentment among ordinary Indonesians, who see it as an attempt by their neighbor to interfere in Indonesia's justice system.

Indonesia's Tempo current affairs weekly labeled the embassy incident as the work of "Jemaah Corbyah" -- comparing Corby's supporters to the Jemaah Islamiyah Muslim extremist group blamed for the Bali bombings.

Australian politician Bruce Billson, who was in Indonesia yesterday for discussions on a possible prisoner-exchange deal that would allow Corby to serve her sentence in her homeland, also condemned the embassy incidents.

"Firstly we conveyed how appalled we are and disgusted by the parcels that have been sent to the Indonesian embassies. It is very un-Australian," he said. "We conveyed our deep regret and how appalled we are that such an activity has happened in our land."

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