Secret documents revealed by an Australian news agency show that the US operated a spying network from Australian embassies across the continent. China are already asking for explanations form the US, Australia has not responded

Chinese foreign office asking for clarifications

Chinese foreign office asking for clarifications Photography: Reuters

The wiretapping affair continues: After the reports of the American NSA spying after world leaders including Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel, today (Thursday) Australian news agency Fairfax reports that Australia aided the American spying. According to the report, Australian embassies across Asia served as bases for American intelligence gathering, such as wiretapping and intercepting radio transmissions.

In the report that originates from documents leaked by Edward Snowdon it is described how American intelligence carried out spying missions form Australian embassies in countries such as China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, without the knowledge of the diplomats working there.

The exposed document describes the spying network that worked out of embassies and consular branches with a small presence and little resources, and with the knowledge of the Australian defense ministry. “Its devices are hidden and its real missions are unknown to the most of the diplomats working in the same country” it said. It was further noted that technological devices used by the members of the spying network were well hidden in architectural designed in the building and underneath roofing tiles. 

Continuing to hurt the US. Snowdon

Continuing to hurt the US. Snowdon Photography: AP

China is furious: “we’re expecting clarifications from the US”

A former Australian intelligence officer told the news agency that the activity in Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia, had a significant role in intelligence gathering on terror threats and smugglings, but stressed that most of the information concerned political, diplomatic and intelligence matters. According to him, the effective spying after senior members of the Indonesian government were made possible by the advancement of the mobile phone network in the country.

Last June the government of the island of Timor accused Australia of spying within its territory. At that time fateful negotiations were being held on the future of gas and nature reserves near the island. From other sensitive documents that were leaked it appears that in 1999 Australian intelligence listened in on military and civilian broadcasts in Indonesia.

Beijing has responded to the reports furiously. “China is very worried in light of the reports and we ask the US to provide clarifications on the matter” said the spokeswoman for the foreign ministry in the country today. “We demand the foreign representatives in China and their staff to respect the Vienna treaty with regards to diplomatic relations between countries and other international agreements that forbid activities that harm the security and interests of China”.

The Australian foreign ministry refused to address the reports, claiming that the government’s policy is to not respond on intelligence matters.