Monday, November 18, 2013

Spying on Indonesia

Today's NSALeak: Australia spied on the President of Indonesia:

Australia's spy agencies have attempted to listen in on the personal phone calls of the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and have targeted the mobile phones of his wife, senior ministers and confidants, a top secret document from whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

The document, dated November 2009, names the president and nine of his inner circle as targets of the surveillance, including the vice-president, Boediono, who last week visited Australia. Other named targets include ministers from the time who are now possible candidates in next year's Indonesian presidential election, and the first lady, Kristiani Herawati, better known as Ani Yudhoyono.


A slide entitled Indonesian President Voice Intercept (August ‘09), shows a call from an unknown number in Thailand to Yudhoyono. But the call did not last long enough for the DSD to fulfil its aims. “Nil further info at this time (didn’t make the dev threshold - only a sub-1minute call),” a note at the bottom says.

Another slide, titled Indonesian President Voice Events, has a graphic of calls on Yudhoyono's Nokia handset over 15 days in August 2009. It plots CDRs – call data records – which record the numbers called and calling a phone, the duration of calls, and whether it was a voice call or SMS. The agency, in what is standard procedure for surveillance, appears to have expanded its operations to include the calls of those who had been in touch with the president. Another slide, entitled Way Forward, states an imperative: “Must have content.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot's response? It's not spying, but "research". Somehow, I think the Indonesians will see it rather differently, and Australian-Indonesian relations will suffer as a result.

Just another example of how spies are harmful to friendly relations and national interests.