The government angrily denied on Friday allegations about “abuse of power” by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono detailed in secret US cables and published by Australian newspapers.
Jakarta promptly protested to Washington over the claim, which was made available by whistle-blower WikiLeaks and ran at length in Fairfax-owned newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
The stories implied that the US embassy in Jakarta had serious doubts about the Indonesian president’s integrity.
“The information is baseless and without truth,” Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said at a press conference.
According to The Age, “the cables say Mr Yudhoyono has personally intervened to influence prosecutors and judges to protect corrupt political figures and pressure his adversaries.”
He also used “the Indonesian intelligence service to spy on political rivals and, at least once, a senior minister in his own government,” the paper said.
Natalegawa said Indonesia had formally submitted on Friday “its strong protest to the United States” during a meeting with Scot Marciel, the US ambassador.
“This type of publication by WikiLeaks is extremely irresponsible and we expressed our deepest regrets to President Yudhoyono and to the Indonesian people,” Marciel told reporters in a joint press conference at the ministry.
Yudhoyono, a former army general, was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2009 on the promise he would combat corruption in the country.
The cables also said Yudhoyono’s former vice-president Jusuf Kalla had reportedly paid huge amounts of money to gain control of Indonesia’s largest party.
They also accused the president’s wife Kristiani Herawati and her family of seeking fortunes through their political connections.
Vice President Boediono was visiting Australia on Friday and would use his trip to “clarify the false information,” according to presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah.
Political analyst from University of Indonesia Andi Wijayanto said the US diplomatic cables that have been leaked about Indonesia now were likely about 10 out of some 3,300 cables in total.
“It seems that the credibility and integrity of the President will be badly affected,” Wijayanto said.