Indonesia Downgrades Australia Relations, Threats Issued Over Spying Revelations

Tony Abbott Getty / Oscar Siagian

The Indonesian government says it is downgrading the status of its relationship with Australia following revelations that senior government officials including the President were targets of Australian surveillance programs.

Foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said today the government had “already adjusted various forms of cooperation”.

“We are turning off the tap by degrees.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to apologise after reports showed Australia tapped its president’s mobile phone in 2009.

Indonesian politicians are livid. The country has recalled its ambassador from Canberra, and is considering expelling Australian diplomats.

Abbott said while he regretted the strain, all countries spied, and Australia’s intelligence agencies worked to protect its interests.

Indonesia has bargaining chips though, and several politicians are calling for them to be used to force an apology. One minister, Susaningtyas Handayani Kertopati, said yesterday that her country should stop preventing people smugglers leaving on their way to Australia.

“We are in a better position than Australia. This issue [boat people] could be utilized as a bargaining chip in demanding apology from Prime Minister Tony Abbott,” Susaningtyas said, according to the Jakarta Post.

The country’s police chief has also said his force could stop co-operating with Australia. The Jakarta Post says his agency helps Australia with organised crime, counter terrorism and people trafficking.

There’s more here.

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