Whistleblower Edward Snowden and a former Australian intelligence officer revealed that Australian embassies are being used by U.S.-led global spying network to intercept phone calls and data across Asian nations.
Mr Snowden said that a top secret group called Defence Signals Directorate managed the secret surveillance facilities at different Australian embassies across Asia. The perpetrators managed to hide the spying activities from most of the Australian diplomats.
In an exclusive report from the Fairfax Media, Mr Snowden and the unnamed Australian intelligence officer said that the spying activities involved collecting signals intelligence from Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby.
This recent expose' was part of the document published by Germany's Der Speigel, leaked by Mr Snowden which exposed the "Five Eyes" intelligence partners that include Australia, Britain and Canada.
The document revealed that the spying programme conducted through the Australian embassies was dubbed as STATEROOM. It was unequivocally written in the document that the Australian Defence Signals Directorate runs STATEROOM facilities through "Australian diplomatic facilities."
The document described the surveillance facilities: "They are covert, and their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff at the facility where they are assigned. For example antennas are sometimes hidden in false architectural features or roof maintenance sheds."
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade refused to give their side on the issue.
"It is the long-standing practice of Australian governments not to comment on intelligence matters," a spokesman for the department told Fairfax Media.
The document did not direct to a specific location as to where the Defence Signals Directorate facilitates were located across the Asian nations being spied on.
However, according to the unidentified former Australian Defence Intelligence officer, The Australian Embassy in Jakarta was the key player in collecting intelligence to track terrorist threats and people smuggling.
But, the officer emphasised, that the main goal of the activities is to spy on political, diplomatic and economic intelligence.
"The huge growth of mobile phone networks has been a great boon and Jakarta's political elite are a loquacious bunch; even when they think their own intelligence services are listening they just keep talking," the officer told Fairfax Media.
He also revealed that the Australian Consulate in Denpasar, Bali, was also being utilised for the signals intelligence collection.
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