Archive for Australia
Indonesians burned Australian flags on Thursday over reports that Australia’s spies tried to tap the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, as relations between the neighbors plunged to their lowest point since the late 1990s. About 200 people marched to the heavily fortified Australian embassy in Jakarta – the scene of a 2004 bombing that killed 10 people – to demand an apology over the alleged spying, which prompted Yudhoyono to downgrade diplomatic relations with Canberra on Wednesday. Australia earlier updated its travel advisory for Indonesia, the country’s second most popular tourist destination after New Zealand, urging citizens in the Southeast Asian archipelago to avoid protests and “maintain high levels of vigilance”. Yudhoyono went on national television on Wednesday to announce that he was freezing military and intelligence cooperation, including over the issue of asylum seekers, that has long been an irritant in relations. The reports that sparked the Indonesian outrage quoted documents leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, suggesting Australia had tried to monitor the phones of top Indonesian officials in 2009.
The Indonesian government has decided to recall its ambassador to Australia as a strong protest over the illegal wiretapping conducted by Australian surveillance agencies that had targeted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the First Lady. Documents released by whistle blower Edward Snowden reveal that in 2009 Australias Defence Signals Directorate wiretapped the personal mobile numbers of both Yudhoyono and his wife, Kristiani Herawati, as well as eight others in the Presidents inner circle, including Vice President Boediono. According to top secret documents revealed by The Guardian and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the other targets of Australias espionage were former president Yusuf Kalla, the then presidents spokesman on foreign relations affairs Dino Patti Djalal, the then Minister/State Secretary Hatta Rajasa, the then Presidents Spokesman on Domestic Affairs Andi Mallarangeng, the then Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the then Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi Sucipto and the then Information Minister Sofyan Djalil. Earlier, news stories about wiretapping, allegedly conducted by the United States and Australia on Indonesia, were reported in Australias Sydney Morning Herald on October 31. The Herald wrote that Australian surveillance collection facilities were located at embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, Timor Leste, and at the high commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Following reports that Australias Jakarta embassy was used as part of a U.S.-led spying network in Asia, Indonesias Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa stated that if such facilities existed, they did not only seriously violate the nations security, but also diplomatic norms and ethics. Following the latest revelations on espionage, Indonesia has decided to recall its ambassador “as he would be unable to perform his tasks properly amidst the ongoing spying issues,” according to Marty Natalegawa. “We have recalled the ambassador to Australia in Canberra for consultation and to receive information on what is happening in Australia,” he said during a press conference. The intention to review cooperation with Australia was also confirmed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on his Twitter account @SBYudhoyono on Tuesday (Nov 19). “We will also review a number of bilateral cooperation agreements as a consequence of this hurtful action by Australia,” Yudhoyono said
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Australia Ms Jacqueline Zwambila stands to lose property worth over US$2 700 that is set to be attached from her Norton home after she failed to settle a debt. According to a report by the Zanu PF controlled Sunday Mail newspaper this follows the successful application for a default judgment by a local construction company that accuses Ms Zwambila of failing to settle a US$2 429 debt emanating from renovations done at her house in January this year. Chaliff Construction recently won a default judgment that saw its director, Crispen Dangirwa, being armed with a warrant of execution to recover the sum of US$2 769 through attaching property from the envoy’s home.
The case in which Zimbabwe’s controversial ambassador to Australia Jacqueline Zwambila is suing a journalist for defaming her following an allegation that she stripped naked before embassy staff members began. Zwambila reportedly stripped her clothes in front of embassy staff in protest that they were leaking information to the state media. She however managed to bring an Australian newspaper that re-published the news to its knees as she snatched an out of court settlement of at least 60,000 dollars. The major reason used for pulling down the Australian paper was that their journalists failed to obtain her personal comment before publishing the story. But not long after that, she triggered greater suspicion as she ironically ignored and continued to snub journalists seeking consultation on the same matter.
Already mired in a diplomatic crisis in Europe over National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance operations, Washington—as well as Canberra—is facing a backlash in Asia over the latest revelations that the NSA, working in tandem with Australian agencies, intercepted phone calls and data from embassies throughout the region. The Fairfax media yesterday reported on the involvement of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) in the NSA program, codenamed STATEROOM, which gathers electronic intelligence from covert facilities inside diplomatic missions. According to a former Australian intelligence officer, the ASD operates “from Australian embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, and High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, as well as other diplomatic posts.” Details of the STATEROOM program are contained in an NSA document leaked by Edward Snowden and originally published by Der Spiegel in Germany. US diplomatic missions and those of other members of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence alliance, including Canada and Britain, are involved. The document noted that the highly secretive “collection sites” are small in size and “their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff” where they are located. A top secret NSA map published by Der Spiegel on Tuesday displayed 90 surveillance facilities in US diplomatic missions worldwide, run by a joint CIA-NSA group known as the “Special Collection Service.” China is the major target in East Asia, with surveillance facilities in the US embassy in Beijing, as well as US consulates in Shanghai and Chengdu, and in the unofficial US diplomatic office in Taiwan. The US has eight listening posts in South Asia, including in US embassies in India and Pakistan. In South East Asia, there are listening posts in embassies in Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. The embassy in Bangkok also features a technical support team and monitors a remotely operated facility in the US consulate at Chang Mai in northern Thailand. The latest revelations are a blow to the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a diplomatic offensive and military build-up aimed at undermining China’s influence and strategic position throughout the region. The Obama administration risks alienating key allies and strategic partners that form part of its plans for the strategic encirclement of China.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Australia’s ambassador on Friday to respond to news media reports that its embassy in Jakarta was used as part of a United States-led spying effort, saying such actions were “not acceptable” and had harmed its diplomatic relations with both countries. The Australian ambassador, Greg Moriarty, met with Indonesian officials on Friday morning following reports this week in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel and The Sydney Morning Herald that the intelligence collection program had been conducted from Australian embassies in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and East Timor, and from Australian high commissions — the equivalent of embassies among Commonwealth countries — in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. “The purpose of the meeting was to seek clarification on the information about the facilities in the Australian Embassy in Jakarta,” said Michael Tene, the Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman, “as well as to convey the message that if the information is true, such acts are not acceptable to the Indonesian government and run counter to the good relationship that exists between our two countries.” Afterward, The Associated Press reported, Mr. Moriarty said, “From my perspective, it was a good meeting and now I have to go and report directly to my government.” On Wednesday, Kristen Bauer, the chargé d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Jakarta, and currently its ranking diplomat, was also summoned. “I can confirm that we have had a meeting with the foreign ministry,” an embassy spokesman said, declining to comment further.
A staffer from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta is before Darwin courts on six charges of allegedly possessing and producing child abuse and pornographic material in Indonesia and Australia. The Canberra man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the embassy. He was arrested in Darwin in July as he travelled from Indonesia. It is understood he has been suspended from his duties, which involved work with the Indonesian military. The man, who has appeared in an official government photo alongside former federal government ministers, has entered pleas of not guilty to all charges and he will be defending them. The man has been charged on two counts of possessing child abuse material in Darwin, one charge of possessing child pornography outside Australia, and three charges of producing child pornography outside Australia. It is understood the two Darwin counts relate to allegations that child pornographic material was found on his computer when he was arrested. The other charges relate to material he allegedly viewed or produced in his Jakarta residence in 2012. The three charges of producing child porn relate to allegations he digitally transposed ordinary photos of the faces of two young Australian girls, who were known to him, onto child porn photos he had sourced online. DFAT said in a statement: “It would be inappropriate for DFAT to provide comment on any matter which is the subject of legal proceedings. ”The man’s next appearance is on October 23.
The former Macedonian Ambassador to Australia lived a life of lies and deceit, defrauding members of his own community to secure large sums of money for a cancer operation he didn’t need, a court has been told. The allegations about the conduct of Pero Stojanovski, who was ambassador until 2011, included that ”he was using his position in the high office of ambassador to garner people’s respect and confidence in him” and to gain financial benefits by deception. Questions about Mr Stojanovski’s credibility arose at last week’s Supreme Court trial of his former partner, Sydney woman Lidjia Dumbaloska, who the former ambassador had accused of breaking into his home, stealing his laptop and attempting to blackmail him. But the Crown suddenly dropped the charges before the trial officially began after Ms Dumbaloska’s lawyer, Rick Mitry, told the court he had a pile of evidence and a string of witnesses who would give statements about Mr Stojanovksi’s behaviour. Mr Mitry told the court that the honesty and credibility of Mr Stojanovski was a fundamental issue in the case and he planned to show that his tenure as ambassador was prematurely terminated because of some of his behaviours. He said he had a string of statements from people that Mr Stojanovski had asked for money to pay for an urgent prostate cancer operation – a disease he never had. Crown prosecutor Anthony Williamson told the court that until the start of the trial they considered the evidence they had to be ”line ball” but had decided to let the jury decide. ”But in light of this further evidence … the Crown’s position that pursuing the trial is futile and its just a waste of the court’s time, the jury’s time, the parties’ time and we will not proceed further,” said Mr Williamson. He said the prosecution would pursue a minor theft charge in the summary court against Ms Dumbaloska.
The Australian Embassy Bangkok invites applications for the position of Australia’s Honorary Consul, based in Phuket, with consular responsibility for the provinces of Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga. On behalf of the Australian Embassy, Bangkok, the Honorary Consul will: Provide consular assistance to Australians in relation to their welfare, whereabouts, arrest, imprisonment, repatriation, hospitalisation, evacuation or death, provide passport services to Australians, and; provide other services as set out in the selection criteria. Applicants for this position should be an Australian citizen, although non-Australians who meet all other selection criteria will be considered. Further details of this position including the selection criteria and instructions on how to apply are available at http://www.thailand.embassy.gov.au under ‘About Us’ and ‘Job Vacancies’. Applications close at 4.30 PM, Wednesday, 18 September 2013.
A woman accused of trying to blackmail the former Ambassador for the Republic of Macedonia after a failed love affair, has broken down as her trial was abandoned in the ACT Supreme Court. Lidija Dumbaloska, 40, was charged in December 2010 after allegedly breaking into the then Ambassador’s home in Canberra where it is claimed she stole a laptop computer. She was also accused of trying to blackmail the Ambassador asking for $150,000 and 40,000 euros for the return of the laptop. The pair had been in a relationship, which had soured. Dumbaloska was to have faced a trial on Monday on charges of burglary, theft and blackmail. But the Crown abandoned the case after learning of a bid to present last minute evidence which would cast doubt on the credibility of the alleged victim. Dumbaloska will still face theft charges in the ACT Magistrates Court.