Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied the government has ever used intelligence “to the detriment” of other countries, following reports Australian spies shared intelligence about trade negotiations with their US counterparts.
While Abbott said he could not comment on “operational intelligence matters”, he did say Australia did not use intelligence “to the detriment of other countries” or for “commercial purposes”.
He told reporters, while in Bourke visiting drought affected regions, “We use it for the benefit of our friends. We use it to uphold our values. We use it to protect our citizens and the citizens of other countries.”
Tension between the Australian and Indonesian governments is expected to heighten after documents, obtained by former US NSA analyst Edward Snowden, were today published in The New York Times and revealed Australia had been involved in spying activities and intelligence-sharing with the US.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has criticised Abbott for the worsening of the countries’ relationship.
“I am concerned that in the course of five-and-a-half months Tony Abbott’s taken our relationship with Indonesia from hero to zero,” he said.
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