Australia helped NSA spy on Asia, new Edward Snowden docs show


Australian Ambassador Greg Moriarty arrives after being summoned to the Indonesian foreign ministry on November 1, 2013, following reports that Australian embassies were being secretly used to intercept phone calls and data across Asia as part of a US-led global spying network.



Indonesia summoned Ambassador Greg Moriarty while China demanded an explanation following revelations that Australian diplomatic outposts were used to spy on Asian nations.

The latest leaked documents from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, published this week in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, reveal eavesdropping from embassies in Thailand, Vietnam, China and East Timor as well as diplomatic outposts in Kuala Lumpur and Papua New Guinea.

“If confirmed, such action is not only a breach of security, but also a serious breach of diplomatic norms and ethics,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said, according to BBC.

Called Stateroom, the project involves concealing communications equipment within embassies or high commissions to tap conversations, the magazine said.

Moriarty met with Foreign Ministry officials in Indonesia on Friday, the Associated Press reported. He called them productive meetings, but would not elaborate.

Also, a representative for China’s Foreign Ministry has asked for “clarification,” the AP said.

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“China is severely concerned about the reports, and demands a clarification and explanation,” Hua Chunying said Thursday, according to the AP.

Stateroom also involved Canadian and British diplomatic outposts. Along with New Zealand, the countries operate the “Five Eyes” security sharing network.

According to the documents obtained by Der Spiegel, the spying involves placing communications equipment inside buildings, sometimes within “false architectural features or roof maintenance sheds.”

“These are small in size and in number of personnel staffing them,” the documents say. “They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned.”

The Australian government wouldn’t comment, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his government operates within the law, although he didn’t deny the report.

“Every Australian governmental agency, every Australian official... operates in accordance with the law,” he said, BBC reported.

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