- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Secret U.S. Embassy cables that implicated the president of Indonesia in widespread corruption sparked angry demonstrations this week in the capital, Jakarta, and reports of a billion-dollar lawsuit against the embassy.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono denounced the diplomatic cables as “character assassination” and denied any involvement in the schemes the embassy outlined in reports to Washington.

“Believe me, I am accountable for what I do,” he said Monday night. “I, God willing, will continue to maintain the integrity because that is my duty as leader of this country.”

U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel expressed regret that the cables were leaked but declined to comment on the contents.

The cables, released to the Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers in Australia by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, claimed Mr. Yudhoyono protected corrupt cronies from prosecution and used the Indonesian intelligence service to spy on political opponents.

The diplomatic reports also said the president’s wife, Kristiani Herawati, and her relatives enriched themselves through their political connections.

A December 2004 cable described how Mr. Yudhoyono intervened to stop an investigation of Taufik Kiemas, the husband of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri. The cable referred to the “legendary corruption of his wife’s tenure.”

It revealed that a senior adviser to Mr. Yudhoyono served as a political informant for the embassy and told U.S. diplomats that prosecutors had “sufficient evidence … to warrant Taufik’s arrest.”

A December 2006 cable said Mr. Yudhoyono’s wife “is increasingly seeking to profit personally by acting as a broker or facilitator for business ventures.”

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Globe reported the Federation of National United Workers filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the Australian newspapers, although the newspaper was not clear about the grounds for the suit.

The Herald-Sun in Australia reported that the group also named the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta as a defendant.

About a dozen angry protesters picketed the embassy on Tuesday.

“The U.S. government must apologize over the leaked diplomatic cables, which have … hurt the feelings of the Indonesian people,” said organizer Ahmad Suhaimi.


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