This Report Says The Mexican Government Deployed Spyware Against Journalists And Activists

This Report Says The Mexican Government Deployed Spyware Against Journalists And Activists”

Mexico's government appears to have been using advanced spyware created for criminal investigations to target some of the country's most prominent journalists, lawyers and anti-corruption activists.

But according to a report released on Monday by the Citizen Lab, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, the Mexican government has been using Pegasus to spy on its critics.

Those claiming to be targeted by the software included Carmen Aristegui, a journalist who in 2014 helped reveal that President Enrique Peña Nieto's wife had acquired a house from a major government contractor, as well as Carlos Loret de Mola, a journalist at leading television network Televisa.

"This is an operation by the Mexican state, in which state agents - far from doing what they should legally do - have used our resources, our taxes, our money to commit serious abuses", said journalist Carmen Aristegui.

A statement from Mr Pena Nieto's office said that there was no proof that the Mexican government had carried out the spying described in the New York Times.

She said members of her staff and her 16-year-old son were also targeted. But it denied any illegal spying. A spokesperson for the group previously told the New York Times that it only offered its services to legitimate governments.

When unflattering stories hit the headlines, researchers say SMS messages carrying malware links would arrive on the targets' smartphones.

Personal and sexual taunts, fake emergency alerts and bills, and threats to physical safety are also employed as ways to break into targets' phone, according to Citizen Lab.

The spyware is made by a secretive Israeli firm called NSO Group, owned by USA private equity firm Francisco Partners Management.

But upon further reflection he changed his mind "because spying opens the door to go farther: the intimidation, the harassment, the censorship, the firings, the beatings, the abductions, the kidnappings, the disappearances, the murders, the impunity that makes it likely that none of this is investigated, that none of it is punished", he said.

"It is noteworthy in this regard that while in the United States, the minor child Emilio Arestigui received SMS messages purporting to be from the US Embassy", Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, wrote in a blog post on Monday. The report details more than 70 cases of espionage against journalists and human rights activists in Mexico "with links to NSO Group's exploit framework". The practice is now spreading to activists and journalists, he said, as movements in favour of human rights and stopping graft gain ground.

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