Mexico: Federal Commission to Investigate Military Amid Espionage Claims

Sen. Ricardo Monreal, the leader of the ruling Morena party in Mexico's upper chamber, told reporters on Monday that a federal commission will be installed later this week to investigate claims of abuses by the military, including reports that it used the Pegasus spyware to hack the phone of prom...

Mexico: Federal Commission to Investigate Military Amid Espionage Claims
Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via The Guardian]

Facts

  • Sen. Ricardo Monreal, the leader of the ruling Morena party in Mexico's upper chamber, told reporters on Monday that a federal commission will be installed later this week to investigate claims of abuses by the military, including reports that it used the Pegasus spyware to hack the phone of prominent rights activist Raymundo Ramos.1
  • This announcement comes just a few days after Mexico's Pres. Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured that the government hasn't spied on anyone, accusing Mexican news outlets of publishing 'made up' allegations against him.2
  • This announcement comes just a few days after Mexico's Pres. Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured that the government hasn't spied on anyone, accusing Mexican news outlets of publishing 'made up' allegations against him.3
  • Last week, three local outlets working with Mexican rights groups disclosed an alleged military report suggesting that high-ranking military officials were involved in espionage reportedly carried out by the secretive Military Intelligence Center.4
  • While the government has been mired in scandal for years over the alleged use of spyware against prominent critics, this is the first time a paper trail has emerged to support such claims. Mexico's Ministry of Defense has acknowledged using Pegasus only from 2011 to 2013.4
  • In October, Mexican digital rights organization R3D, with technical support from the Citizen Lab, claimed that forensic analysis had revealed that two Mexican journalists and an opposition lawmaker, as well as Ramos, were infected with Pegasus between 2019 and 2021.5
  • In October, Mexican digital rights organization R3D, with technical support from the Citizen Lab, claimed that forensic analysis had revealed that two Mexican journalists and an opposition lawmaker, as well as Ramos, were infected with Pegasus between 2019 and 2021.6
  • Mexico was reportedly the testbed for the global spy tool developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. In 2021, the country's Public Security Ministry disclosed details of 27 of 31 contracts – worth more than $160M – signed between 2011 and 2018.7
  • Mexico was reportedly the testbed for the global spy tool developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. In 2021, the country's Public Security Ministry disclosed details of 27 of 31 contracts – worth more than $160M – signed between 2011 and 2018.8

Sources: 1Guardian, 2Reuters (a), 3BBC News, 4New York Times, 5The citizen lab, 6Reuters (b), 7Reuters (c) and 8Nikkei asia.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by New york times. Though well-known that Mexico's democracy has been pushed to its limits under the López Obrador government, the confirmed spying on journalists and activists is certainly a new low. Either the president knew about this practice and did nothing to stop it, or he has been an incompetent commander in chief of the increasingly powerful armed forces.
  • Narrative A, as provided by Skynews. Though well-known that Mexico's democracy has been pushed to its limits under the López Obrador government, the confirmed spying on journalists and activists is certainly a new low. Either the president knew about this practice and did nothing to stop it, or he has been an incompetent commander in chief of the increasingly powerful armed forces.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Mexico daily post. The latest allegations that Mexico's military has spied on its citizens are ill-founded fabrications that are intended to undermine the reputation of this institution as well as of López Obrador. While the government has indeed relied on some kind of intelligence technology to investigate and tackle crime, it hasn't engaged in espionage activity.
  • Narrative B, as provided by The sydney morning herald. The latest allegations that Mexico's military has spied on its citizens are ill-founded fabrications that are intended to undermine the reputation of this institution as well as of López Obrador. While the government has indeed relied on some kind of intelligence technology to investigate and tackle crime, it hasn't engaged in espionage activity.