US ‘tapping cell phones in Indonesia’

US agents in Jakarta have been eavesdropping on Indonesian citizens’ phone conversations and reading their text messages, a report says.

According to the report by investigative journalist Allan Nairn, US intelligence officers in Jakarta are secretly tapping the cell phones and reading the SMS text messages of Indonesian civilians.

Some of the Americans involved in the spy operation work out of the Jakarta headquarters of Detachment 88, a US-trained and funded paramilitary unit which is part of Kopassus, the Indonesian army’s Special Forces.

Detachment 88 was recently involved in the arrest of a West Papuan human rights lawyer who had sent a text message critical of the Indonesian military and the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The lawyer, Iwangin Sabar Olif, was charged with ‘incitement and insulting the head of state.’

Sources have also told Nairn that US intelligence is providing covert intelligence aid to Kopassus.
The information on the US surveillance program is provided by three sources, including an individual who has worked frequently with the Indonesian security forces.

Detachment 88 has been mentored by veteran CIA and State Department official Cofer Black, who was one of the architects of the US invasion of Afghanistan.

At present Black is one of the lead officials at the notorious Blackwater security agency which provides mercenaries to protect US diplomatic and other missions in Iraq. The company is the focus of much scrutiny because of a long record of indiscriminate killings of Iraqi civilians.