Mexican president says gov’t no longer spies
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that the Mexican government does not engage in wiretapping and he urged people to use their telephones without fear.
“Regarding espionage, it’s all over. You can talk on the telephone in tranquility. There are no swallows on the wire anymore, at least as far as the federal government is concerned,” he said during his daily morning press conference.
In mid-2017, The New York Times reported that spyware purchased by the Mexican government for use against criminals and terrorists had been turned on to human rights activists, anti-corruption crusaders and journalists.
The subjects were targeted by Pegasus software, designed to infiltrate a person’s cell phone to gain access to everything on the device, The Times said.
Pegasus, made by the Israeli company NSO Group, is capable of hijacking a smartphone’s camera and microphone to turn the device into a surveillance tool, according to the report.
“It is very likely that all the files will be opened,” Lopez Obrador said Wednesday regarding the Pegasus affair.
The leftist president also said that officers currently serving as bodyguards for public officials could be redeployed to provide protection to at-risk journalists or human rights defenders.
On the broader issue of public safety, Lopez Obrador again defended his plan to create a National Guard comprising as many as 150,000 military and police personnel under army command.
“It is the strategy that’s being proposed to protect the citizens because what has been implemented in recent years are operations,” he said, apparently alluding to a tendency for authorities to focus on raids and arrests of high-profile suspects.