Indonesia’s president has accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of belittling the latest spying revelations.
Indonesia’s president has vented his anger over revelations Australia tapped his phone, accusing Prime Minister Tony Abbott of belittling the affair and warning of painful consequences.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made his feelings clear in a series of tweets to his four million followers after claims Australian spies targeted his mobile phone in 2009 along with those of his wife and closest confidants.
The president says the claims, which stem from a leak from fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, have “injured” Indonesia’s strategic relationships with Australia and the US.
“We will also revisit our bilateral co-operation agenda,” he said, going on to warn of “painful consequences”.
“I also deplore the Australian Prime Minister’s statement that plays down the spying issue on Indonesia, without feeling guilty,” he said, according to a translation of his recent tweets.
Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia, Nadjib Kesoema, flew out of Canberra on Tuesday on the orders of his government, telling reporters before he boarded his flight that Mr Abbott owed his country a “good explanation”.
But Mr Abbott remained tight-lipped about the affair, refusing to say whether he would apologise to Indonesia.
He maintains that Australian governments do not comment on intelligence matters and insists the relationship between the two nations is “good and strong”.
“Obviously today may not be the best day,” he told reporters.
“It’s in no one’s interests to do anything or to say anything that would jeopardise that relationship, and certainly I’m not going to.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told a caucus meeting on Tuesday that Labor would not seek to politicise the issue.
But former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr described the row as “catastrophic” and called on Mr Abbott to apologise.
He also criticised the wording and tone of Mr Abbott’s comments in parliament on Monday, when he said: “All governments gather information. All governments know that every other government gathers information.”
“The tone was too dismissive by far to have been helpful,” Senator Carr said.
Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen would not say whether he knew about the spying activity, which occurred under the Rudd government.
“It would be highly irresponsible for me to do so,” he said, adding Mr Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had to act “proactively” to deal with the fallout of the claims.
Former US diplomat Kurt Campbell said there is very little Australia can say now to ease the tensions with Jakarta, warning that the government should expect an uncomfortable few months.
The Australian Greens say an “out-of-control” surveillance culture has permeated Australian and US intelligence agencies.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, a former intelligence analyst, says Indonesia’s denial that it spies on Australia is a “fantastic proposition”.
“They knew we were spying in and on them, we know they’re spying in and on us,” he told Sky News.