AMLO ally, human rights official spied on
May 24, 2023
Alejandro Encinas, Mexico’s under secretary for human rights, was targeted with Pegasus, the world’s most notorious spyware, while investigating abuses by the nation’s military, revealed the New York Times this week.
“This is the first confirmed case of such a senior member of an administration — let alone someone so close to the president — being surveilled by Pegasus in more than a decade of the spy tool’s use in the country.” (New York Times)
Encinas and López Obrador have been close allies for decades. Upon becoming president, AMLO tasked Encinas with investigating one of Mexico’s most emblematic human rights scandals. “This seems like the most dangerous chapter of the Pegasus story in Mexico,” Kate Doyle, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, told the Washington Post. “If the Mexican military is spying on one of the president’s top aides without his knowledge, then the Mexican military is operating outside of civilian control.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador admitted, yesterday, that he had been informed that Encinas was being spied on, and “I told him not to give it any importance because there was no intention of spying on anybody,” reports the New York Times.
Citizen Lab, a digital research center at the University of Toronto, confirmed the presence of the malware on Encinas’s phone via a forensic audit last year.
There is no definitive proof of who was behind the hacks of Encinas’s phone, but in Mexico, the only entity that has access to Pegasus is the military, according to the New York Times.
Investigations have repeatedly found that Mexico’s military deployed Israeli spyware against critical voices. An investigation by R3D revealed last October that the Army bought the Pegasus software in 2019 to spy on activists and journalists under the López Obrador Administration. According to R3D's investigations, at least one activist and two journalists have found evidence of their personal information being traced on their phones. (El País)
In April, another investigation by Citizen Lab, R3D, Social TIC, and Article 19 revealed that a Mexican governmental agency infected the phones of two of the lawyers for the families of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa. (Citizen Lab)
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