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Australia blasts Snowden over 'treachery'

Phone-tapping allegations from former NSA analyst have soured relations between Australia and Indonesia.

Last updated: 22 Jan 2014 22:36
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'He is no hero,' Australia's foreign minister said of Edward Snowden [AFP/The Guardian]

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has accused Edward Snowden of "unprecedented treachery" for his leaks about secret government surveillance.

Documents provided by the former National Security Agency analyst, which alleged Australia bugged the phone of the Indonesian president, have embarrassed the close US ally.

"[Snowden's actions] strike at the heart of the collaboration between those nations in world affairs that stand at the forefront of protecting human freedom," Bishop said on Wednesday in Washington, before a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden.

"This represents unprecedented treachery; he is no hero," she said.

Bishop, who defended Australia's intelligence cooperation with America, also welcomed President Barack Obama's recent review of US surveillance operations.

Reports based on Snowden's leaks said that Australia tried to bug the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and members of his inner circle in 2009.

Snowden's phone-tapping revelations led Indonesia to halt work with Australia to stem people-smuggling, a key priority for new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Snowden, a 30-year-old intelligence contractor, fled the United States in May last year after unveiling that his government was collecting telephone data from millions of US citizens, monitoring vast amounts of private internet traffic and eavesdropping on the conversations of foreign friends and foes alike.

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