Mexico president denies spying on critics after Pegasus allegations

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday denied his administration spied on journalists or opponents following a report that the phones of at least three people investigating human rights abuses were infected with Pegasus spyware. An analysis by digital watchdog Citizen Lab on Sunday found that phones belonging to two journalists and a human rights activist were infected with Pegasus between 2019 and 2021.


Reuters | Mexico City | Updated: 04-10-2022 21:14 IST | Created: 04-10-2022 21:13 IST
Mexico president denies spying on critics after Pegasus allegations
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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday denied his administration spied on journalists or opponents following a report that the phones of at least three people investigating human rights abuses were infected with Pegasus spyware.

An analysis by digital watchdog Citizen Lab on Sunday found that phones belonging to two journalists and a human rights activist were infected with Pegasus between 2019 and 2021. Lopez Obrador won office in 2018 after an election campaign in which he pledged to put an end to the government spying on its citizens and later said he would not use Pegasus.

Pegasus belongs to Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, which typically only sells the software to governments or law enforcement. When asked whether he knew about the purchase of Pegasus, which can be used to remotely break into phones, Lopez Obrador said: "It's not true that journalists or opponents are spied on."

The military carried out intelligence work, which was "not spying," he told a news conference, accusing adversaries of using the Pegasus allegations to discredit his government. "My doctrine isn't hypocrisy, like the former administrations you all applaud," he told reporters.

The use of Pegasus by Mexico was previously detected by Citizen Lab in 2017 under former President Enrique Pena Nieto, sparking alarm about monitoring of politicians, journalists, activists and critics of the government. The latest three alleged victims of Pegasus filed a complaint with federal prosecutors on Monday calling for a criminal probe. Lopez Obrador asked for evidence to be turned over to authorities.

The infections were verified by Citizen Lab, a leading cybersecurity research group at the University of Toronto and published in a report by Mexican digital rights advocacy group R3D. Reuters could not independently confirm the findings. Israel's NSO Group said it could not validate Citizen Lab's analysis without seeing data that it said the research group does not share. It noted it terminates contracts when it finds wrongdoing. Mexico's Defense Ministry and Attorney General's office said they did not have information about the case.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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