Australian PM 'distressed' over Bashir release

Australian Prime Minister John Howard sent a letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday expressing the country's "distress" over the release of militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir. The letter, which Howard presented to Parliament on Thursday, also urges the Indonesian government to monitor Bashir because of his links to the 2002 terrorist bombings on Bali that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. "I write to convey my very deep personal concerns and the distress of the Australian people at the release of Mr. Abu Bakar Bashir," Howard wrote. "It is important that the Indonesian government monitor very closely the activities of Mr. Bashir."