Yesterday night, New York Times has reported new revelations from Edward Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor cum whistle blower. The report says that Australian Intelligence in active collaboration with the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the US based Law Firm which was representing Indonesia in a bitter Trade dispute.
Though NSA’s snooping activities have now been made world famous by Edward Snowden in the recent past, but snooping on the Lawyers is the latest of the breach of privacy laws. US Constitution safeguards the Attorney-Client Privilege for which taken very seriously by the US laws and citizens. Yet the NYT reports states that the Attorney-Client Privilege was brazenly breached by the Australian Signals Directorate and National Security Agency to snoop on the unnamed Attorneys for Indonesia during the said trade dispute.
A top-secret document, obtained by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, shows that an unnamed American law firm was monitored while representing Indonesian in trade disputes with the United States. As the current legal framework specifically bars the N.S.A. from snooping or wire tapping American citizens including businesses, law firms and other organizations based in the United States, for surveillance without warrants, in this case NSA bypassed the jurisdiction by collaborating with Australian Signals Intelligence. This not only helped NSA skirt the US laws but also allowed it to gain active intelligence before hand about the Indonesian stand in the trade stand off.
Thus far the Australian government has declined to comment on the role played by its intelligence services in this latest row. In a statement, the Australian Defence Force public affairs office said that in gathering information to support Australia’s national interests, its intelligence agencies adhered strictly to their legal obligations, including when they engaged with foreign counterparts.
But however beautifully worded the Australian spokesperson puts it before the press, the Indonesian Government and its citizens are bound to take offence at this latest revelations. The already strangled and dicey ties between the two neighbours will now get even more worse. The bout of hacks and DDoS attacks against the Australian websites which seemed to have subsided in the past couple of months are bound to start again.