Australia, Indonesia to end rift by signing joint spy agreement

 Abbott and YudhoyonoBy IAN ALLEN |
Australia and Indonesia are to end months of diplomatic friction by signing a joint agreement aimed at curbing their intelligence activities against each other. IntelNews readers will recall that Indonesia withdrew its ambassador from Canberra and terminated all military and intelligence cooperation with Australia late last year, after it emerged that Australian spies had targeted the communications of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and other senior Indonesian officials, while they were attending the 2009 G20 conference in London. Relations between the two countries worsened considerably in February of this year, when documents leaked by American defector Edward Snowden revealed that Australian intelligence spied on American law firm representing the government of Indonesia in a trade dispute with Washington. The documents, from February 2003, showed that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) purposely targeted the law firm because it represented the commercial interests of the Indonesian state. To make things worse, the leaked information showed that the ASD, which is responsible for signals intelligence and information security, offered to share the intelligence collected from the operation with its American counterpart, the National Security Agency. Following the revelation, the Australian and Indonesian governments were reportedly not on talking terms. But it has now emerged that Australia and Indonesia are to sign a mutually binding agreement titled “Joint Understanding of a Code of Conduct”, which, among other things, will prohibit Australia from using its intelligence agencies to harm Indonesian national interests. Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop told Australia’s ABC network that the agreement would “make it quite clear” that “Australia would not use its […] intelligence resources to the detriment of […] Indonesia”. Read more of this post

We use false passports too, Australians admit

Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop

Israeli intelligence agencies are not alone in using false passports. In fact, intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Australia, the country that is currently involved in a diplomatic spat with Israel due to the latter’s use of forged Australian passports in spy operations, also use forged travel documents. This admission was made yesterday by Australian senior opposition politician Julie Bishop during a live session in the Australian parliament. The parliamentary debate concerned recent revelations that agents of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad used forged Australian passports during an assassination operation against Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was found murdered in a luxury Dubai hotel last January. Australian government officials were quick to condemn Ms Bishop’s revelation as “a grievous breach of national security”. But Australian daily newspaper The Age reports that the opposition politician “merely made public an inconvenient truth”. Read more of this post

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