Indonesia summoned the Australian ambassador in Jakarta yesterday over a report his embassy was part of a vast US-led surveillance network, as the spying row that has soured US-Europe relations spread into Asia.
As Secretary of State John Kerry admitted US spying had sometimes gone too far, concern was growing in Asia, with China among countries demanding answers from Washington over reports of clandestine surveillance.
The row erupted in the region after the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, amplifying an earlier story by German magazine Der Spiegel, this week reported that a top-secret map leaked by fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden that showed 90 US surveillance facilities at diplomatic missions worldwide.
Its reports focused on secret US intelligence facilities in Asia and also said Australian diplomatic posts were being used to monitor telephone calls and collect data as part of the US surveillance network.
Widespread reports of US National Security Agency-spying based on leaks from Snowden have sparked a trans-Atlantic rift. However, the latest reports have brought the scandal to Asia.
Indonesia has so far been the most vocal nation in Asia over the reported spying, earlier this week summoning the top US diplomat in the country over reports of clandestine surveillance from its embassy in Jakarta.
Yesterday, Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty was summoned to the foreign ministry in Jakarta after the Herald reported his embassy was being used in the US spying operation. After a 20 minute meeting, Moriarty told reporters: “I just spoke to the secretary general, and from my perspective, it was a good meeting and now I have to go and report directly to my government.”
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa described the reported spying activities as “just not cricket.”
Natalegawa, speaking yesterday after talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Perth, said his government was “obviously deeply concerned.”
“Most of all, it’s about trust,” he said.
Bishop said that Natalegawa had “raised his concerns, I took them on board and I take them seriously, but the Australian government does not and will not comment on intelligence matters.”