Vietnam demands Australia, US probe spying allegations

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Vietnam has demanded Australia and the US investigate accusations that the Australian embassy has been secretly used to intercept phone calls and data in Vietnam as part of a US-led global spying network.

"Vietnam is very concerned about the information," Luong Thanh Nghi, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told a regular press conference Thursday.

He said his ministry had requested explanations from Australia and the US.

"Relevant sides are requested to verify, handle the issue and ensure positive developments in the relationships between Vietnam and [these] countries," he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald on October 31 quoted Edward Snowden, whistleblower and a former intelligence officer specializing in Australia, as saying that Australian embassies are being secretly used to intercept phone calls and data across Asia as part of a US-led global spying network.

According to Snowden, the top secret Defense Signals Directorate conducts clandestine surveillance facilities at embassies without the knowledge of most Australian diplomats.

Fairfax Media has been told that intelligence collection takes place from Australian embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, and High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, as well as other diplomatic posts.

A secret US National Security Agency document leaked by Snowden and published by Germany's Der Speigel revealed the existence of a highly sensitive intelligence collection program conducted from sites at US embassies and consulates and via diplomatic missions of the countries "Five eyes" intelligence partners including Australia, Britain and Canada.

Codenamed STATEROOM, the program involves the interception of radio, telecommunications and internet traffic.

The document explicitly states that the Australian Defense Signals Directorate operates STATEROOM facilities "at Australian diplomatic facilities," according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

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