Minister calls US spying 'immoral', urges protest

In August, Australian intelligence sources confirmed that top secret intelligence tool XKeyscore - which was revealed by Edward Snowden - has been used to spy on Malaysia among other Asia-Pacific countries. - Reuters pic
In August, Australian intelligence sources confirmed that top secret intelligence tool XKeyscore - which was revealed by Edward Snowden - has been used to spy on Malaysia among other Asia-Pacific countries. - Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob has criticised the United States for using its KL embassy to run a monitoring station to tap telephones and monitor communications networks, describing it as “immoral” and called for protest should the allegation be true.

He said although the Cabinet will have the last say, the rural and aggro-based industries minister said Putrajaya should immediately send a protest note to Washington if the accusations are verified.

“I don't know about the spying activities done by any country towards our country but US spying on other countries, I think the US has already received complaints from Germany.

“They have to stop [using KL as a monitoring station] in fact spying on other country is something that is immoral,” he told The Malay Mail Online.

In the latest report on top secret documents leaked by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, it was revealed that there are 90 electronic surveillance facilities worldwide, including in US embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Yangon.

“I think the government has to send a protest note [but] I cannot speak on behalf of the government on this.

“But if you ask me personally, government should send a protest note to the American embassy but I cannot speak on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Ministry because this activity is immoral,” Ismail commented on the report.

Earlier today, a map originally published by Germany magazine Der Spiegel today, and sighted by Australian dailies Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and its Fairfax Media sister publication The Age, dated August 13, 2010, did not show any such facilities in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Japan, which are the US’ closest allies.

In August, Australian intelligence sources had confirmed that top secret intelligence tool XKeyscore - which was revealed by on-the-run Snowden - has been used to spy on Malaysia among other Asia-Pacific countries.

The admission followed a leaked slideshow published by the UK’s daily The Guardian revealing in detail the US National Security Agency (NSA) programme, which the newspaper claimed collects “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”.

The top secret slideshow made in 2008 revealed that the Xkeyscore programme allows analysts to search through extensive database of emails, search queries, social media, online chats, and browsing histories of millions of people with no need for prior authorisation.

According to SMH today, the map revealed today showed a joint group between Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency called “Special Collection Service” conducting sweeping surveillance operation and clandestine operations against specific intelligence targets.

The map was also published in full originally in Der Spiegel’s website, but was later replaced with a censored version, which listed 90 Special Collection Service facilities, including 74 manned facilities, 14 remotely operated facilities and two technical support centres.

It was released to the “FVEY” group, which included the US’ “5-eyes” intelligence partners - the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand - said SMH.

SMH had previously named Australian signals intelligence facilities at Geraldton in Western Australia, Shoal Bay near Darwin, HMAS Harman near Canberra and the US-Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs as contributors to the XKeyscore database.

According to Fairfax Media, Australian intelligence sources recently confirmed that Australia’s electronic espionage agency, the Defence Signals Directorate, is a “full partner” in the XKeyscore programme.

Fairfax Media had in August revealed that Singaporean intelligence is partnering Defence Signals Directorate in operations to tap undersea fibre optic telecommunication cables linking Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The Xkeyscore programme boasted that by 2008, over 300 terrorists had been captured from intelligence gathered by the tool.

At the time of writing, The Malay Mail Online could not reach the US Embassy for comments.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has joined Ismail in condemning the US and urge Putrajaya to lodge a protest against Washington.