Friday, September 08, 2006

Indonesian Intelligence said to have used ex-president's foundation to lobby US Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. advocacy group says Indonesian intelligence agents used a former Indonesian president's foundation in a successful effort to lobby the U.S. Congress to resume military cooperation with the Southeast Asian country.

The report by the Center for Public Integrity says the Badan Intelijen Negara intelligence agency used former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid's charitable group to hire a Washington lobbying firm to press the
U.S. government on the matter. Efforts to reach the Indonesian Embassy on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The former president's daughter Yenny Wahid denied the report and said the suggested foundation was a humanitarian organization and has been dormant for quite sometime and that her father had never made any contact with the lobbying group.

She, however, acknowledged a group of political operators had asked permission to use her father's name with the idea that the former president figure had a considerable leverage for lobbying in Washington.

"We trust them, and we believe it was for the country's interest," she told The Associated Press.

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush decided last year to lift a six-year military embargo on the Muslim country that was imposed in 1999 after troops ravaged East Timor during the territory's break from Indonesia.

The administration said that continuing to isolate Jakarta, seen as a close ally in the Bush's campaign against terror, was not in Washington's strategic interest. Human rights groups say Indonesian forces have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The Center for Public Integrity said its charges are documented in papers filed by the lobbying firm Richard L. Collins and Co. The group said Wahid's foundation retained the lobbying firm for $30,000 (euro23,565) a month in May 2005 to persuade lawmakers to remove legislative and policy restrictions on security cooperation with Indonesia.

The Center for Public Integrity said the lobbying firm's filings described the Wahid foundation's relationship with Collins and Co. as directed and funded by the (BIN).

The money is not from the foundation, said Yenny, who is now an adviser to incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She added the money could not have come from the government, but suggested it must be from the private sector chipping in together to promote better bilateral ties and more business.

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