Several prominent journalists and activists in Mexico have filed a complaint accusing the government of spying on them by hacking their phones.
The report says that the software, known as Pegasus, was sold to Mexican federal agencies by Israeli company NSO Group on the condition that it only be used to investigate criminals and terrorists.
The software can infiltrate smartphones and monitor calls, texts and other communications, the New York Times said. It can also activate a phone’s microphone or camera, effectively turning the device into a personal bug.
But instead of being used to track suspected criminals, the targets allegedly included investigative journalists, anti-corruption activists and even lawyers.
. . .
Nine people have now filed a criminal complaint
The BBC lists,
- “Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Centre: One of the most respected human rights groups in Mexico, it has looked into the disappearance and suspected massacre of 43 students in 2014 and other high profile cases, including a military raid that left 22 dead in 2014. Its executive director and two other senior executives allegedly received infected messages
- “Aristegui Noticias: Award-winning journalist Carmen Aristegui, who also hosts a daily programme on CNN en Español, has reported on suspected cases of corruption and conflict of interest, including a scandal involving the wife of President Enrique Peña Nieto acquiring a $7m (£5.5m) house from a government contractor. Two members of her investigative team and her under-age son allegedly received some 50 messages
- “Carlos Loret de Mola: A popular journalist at leading TV network Televisa, he allegedly received several messages containing the software
- “Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO): It has led efforts for anti-corruption legislation. Two senior members were allegedly targeted.”
Interestingly, the NYT, which started the investigation, is partially owned by Carlos Slim.
Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists and media workers, and press freedom faces persistent threats.