Mexico continues use of controversial spyware, despite claims to the contrary
October 4, 2022
As we noted in yesterday’s LADB, “the phones of at least three journalists and human rights defenders were infected with a software that allowed for the monitoring of falls and messages. These infections occurred during the same time period that Mexico’s ministry of defense, Sedena, bought the Pegasus spy software from NSO group, says Animal Político.” According to Animal Político, the spyware was bought by Sedena in 2019 from Comercializadora Antsua, Mexico’s representative in NSO Group.
Ejército Espía notes that the use of the spyware directly contradicts a claim by the AMLO administration that the government no longer used the Pegasus spyware and that it would cease future monitoring of citizens. Citizen Lab notes two specific instances, in 2019 and 2021, where AMLO assured the public that the spyware was no longer being used.
The two journalists and one human rights defender who were targeted had been involved with work relating to the investigation and documentation of human rights violations by the Mexican armed forces, says Ejército Espía. Specifically, Raymundo Ramos Vázquez had been “documenting human rights violations committed by the Mexican Army and Navy in the state of Tamaulipas.” Ricardo Raphael had been investigating corruption and the ties between the Mexican government and cartels, in addition to the Ayotzinapa case. In addition, an anonymous Animal Político journalist “was infected on the same day [Animal Político] published a report on human rights violations by the Mexican Armed Forces,” says Citizen Lab. In Milenio, Ricardo Raphael outlined his realization of his phone’s infection and the subsequent steps he took to bring light to the situation.
The news comes at the same time as a major security hack, in which more than six terabytes of data from Sedena’s server were compromised and seized from a group called Guacamaya. This was “the most sweeping cyberattack Mexico has ever suffered,” according to James Bosworth and Lucy Hale in the Latin America Risk Report. As we wrote in yesterday’s LADB, leaked emails revealed AMLO’s alleged health problems and differences between Mexico’s marine and defense secretaries.
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