Julie Bishop lashes Snowden on US visit

Summary:Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has lashed out at Edward Snowden, accusing the US intelligence leaker of 'unprecedented treachery' after he unveiled Canberra's efforts to spy on Indonesia.

On a visit to Washington, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop praised cooperation with Washington and reserved harsh words for National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, whose revelations led Indonesia to halt work with Australia to stem people smuggling, a key priority for new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Shortly before a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden, Bishop said that Snowden "continues to shamefully betray his nation while skulking in Russia".

"This represents unprecedented treachery; he is no hero," she added, in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday.

"Snowden claims his actions were driven by a desire for transparency, but in fact they strike at the heart of the collaboration between those nations in world affairs that stand at the forefront of protecting human freedom," she said.

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.

Indonesia protested by recalling its ambassador and suspending military and immigration cooperation. More recently, Indonesia responded furiously as Australia nonetheless entered Indonesian waters while picking up asylum seekers, incursions that led to an apology from Canberra.

Snowden, a 30-year-old intelligence contractor, fled the US 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.

He fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia, which granted him asylum for a year.

Snowden has strongly denied allegations of betraying the US, saying that he has not cooperated with foreign agencies and wanted to expose wrongdoing as he had no means to air concerns internally.

Topics: Security, Australia, Government : AU, Privacy

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