Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has decided to recall its ambassador to Australia as a strong protest over the illegal wiretapping conducted by Australian surveillance agencies that had targeted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the First Lady.

Documents released by whistle blower Edward Snowden reveal that in 2009 Australias Defence Signals Directorate wiretapped the personal mobile numbers of both Yudhoyono and his wife, Kristiani Herawati, as well as eight others in the Presidents inner circle, including Vice President Boediono.

According to top secret documents revealed by The Guardian and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the other targets of Australias espionage were former president Yusuf Kalla, the then presidents spokesman on foreign relations affairs Dino Patti Djalal, the then Minister/State Secretary Hatta Rajasa, the then Presidents Spokesman on Domestic Affairs Andi Mallarangeng, the then Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the then Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi Sucipto and the then Information Minister Sofyan Djalil.

Earlier, news stories about wiretapping, allegedly conducted by the United States and Australia on Indonesia, were reported in Australias Sydney Morning Herald on October 31.

The Herald wrote that Australian surveillance collection facilities were located at embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, Timor Leste, and at the high commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Following reports that Australias Jakarta embassy was used as part of a U.S.-led spying network in Asia, Indonesias Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa stated that if such facilities existed, they did not only seriously violate the nations security, but also diplomatic norms and ethics.

The Foreign Ministry had summoned Australias ambassador to Indonesia for clarification about the issue on November 1.

Following the latest revelations on espionage, Indonesia has decided to recall its ambassador "as he would be unable to perform his tasks properly amidst the ongoing spying issues," according to Marty Natalegawa.

"We have recalled the ambassador to Australia in Canberra for consultation and to receive information on what is happening in Australia," he said during a press conference on Monday.

Natalegawa further stated that Australia had violated individual privacy and human rights, and had hurt the relationship between the two nations. "This hasnt been a good day in the relationship between Indonesia and Australia," he added.

"It is nothing less than an unfriendly act, which is having already a very serious impact on our bilateral relations," Minister Natalegawa pointed out while announcing the recall of the countrys ambassador from Canberra.

"We have heard and followed the clarifications and information provided by the Australian side. We are not satisfied with the kind of dismissive answer provided, as if this is an activity that has been carried out as a matter of course," he stated.

Strong reactions were also demonstrated by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, who issued a statement on Monday evening saying Indonesia would contact Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to say that the [spying] issue was not healthy for the Indonesia-Australia relationship.

The minister also asked Australia to provide an official and public explanation for the illegal wiretapping and to commit that such actions will not be repeated.

The statement also said that Indonesias Foreign Ministry will also review the cooperation on the exchange of information between the Indonesian and Australian governments, including the assignments of Australian officers in the Australian embassy in Jakarta; and review all cooperation on the exchange of information and other cooperation with Australia.

The intention to review cooperation with Australia was also confirmed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on his Twitter account @SBYudhoyono on Tuesday (Nov 19).

"We will also review a number of bilateral cooperation agreements as a consequence of this hurtful action by Australia," Yudhoyono said

Yudhoyono tweeted that Indonesia wanted an official response from Australia "that can be understood by the public."

"The actions by the United States and Australia are very much damaging to the strategic partnership with Indonesia, which is a fellow democratic nation," the head of state noted.

On Monday, President Yudhoyono had instructed Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa to recall Indonesias ambassador to Australia. "This is a very stern diplomatic measure," he said.

"I also regret the statement made by Australias Prime Minister who underestimated the wiretapping of officials in Indonesia without a sense of guilt," the President said.

He further said that the government has registered a strong protest since the disclosure of spying activities indulged in by the United States and Australia in Indonesia and other countries.

The Chairman of the Peoples Conscience (Hanura) Party Wiranto noted that the government should not only protest against the wiretapping, but also strengthen its capacity to prevent foreign countries espionage.

"Indonesia must acquire knowledge about wiretapping technologies, so it can prevent being spied on in the future," Wiranto said, adding that wiretapping violated human rights and affected peace in community.

To prevent illegal wiretapping, Minister Djoko Suyanto had said earlier, while on a visit to Beijing, that in fact Indonesia was currently strengthening its encryption agency by improving its abilities and capacity.

"Of course, we will continuously improve the capacity and capability of the encryption agency and its departments," the minister said, adding that he could not offer details because it concerned intelligence matters.

"Officially, we are still waiting for clarification from the two countries (the United States and Australia) regarding the wiretapping. However, internally we must strengthen our existing encryption agency," he said.

A number of Indonesian legislators and experts also expressed their anger following the new revelations.

The Deputy Chairman of the Parliaments Foreign Affairs Committee, Tubagus Hasanuddin, said Australia had "crossed the line" and that the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarty should be expelled from the country if Australia did not provide a timely explanation.

Senior legislator Tjahjo Kumolo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) also called for the expulsion of Ambassador Greg Moriarty.

Earlier, the Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR RI) Marzuki Alie had urged the government to lodge strong protests with the United States and Australia over reports of wiretapping.

"I think we need to protest strongly. As a sovereign nation, we must take a stance against what had been done by the foreign countries intelligence agents," Marzuki Alie said recently.

Indonesia must not let foreign countries interfere with its independence, he added. Wiretapping is a form of interference by other countries, he stated, adding that the government must seek clarification for the wiretapping.

The Chairman of the Movement for Just, Prosperous and Secure Indonesia (ASA) retired General Djoko Santoso called on the government to sever diplomatic ties with Australia if the wiretapping had indeed taken place.

"If it is proven that Australia had conducted the wiretapping, the government must take a firm and strong action, namely by severing diplomatic relations with Australia, because wiretapping is a serious violation against the nations sovereignty," Djoko Santoso told the press on Monday evening.

Although the Australian government has remained silent about the wiretapping reports and Indonesias request for a clarification, some Australian politicians have expressed their concern over the spying activities.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said that such surveillance should be reserved for terrorism suspects, ABC reported.

"Are we seriously meant to accept that the President of Indonesia, his wife, his leadership team are a national security threat to Australia? Because if theyre not, then why are their phones being hacked?" he asked.

Ludlam further stated that such unregulated surveillance by spying agencies had done serious damage to the diplomatic relationships and to Australias reputation.


Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Jafar M Sidik
Copyright © ANTARA 2013