Pegasus in Mexico

In less than a week we have seen how Margarita Robles went from ignoring espionage with Pegasus to 65 pro-independence politicians and activists, together with the report by Citizen Lab and the prestigious media outlet The New Yorker, to justifying this espionage and knowing just yesterday that she herself was infected. together with Pedro Sánchez for this malicious software.

Everything seems to indicate that we have Pegasus for a while and I think it is time to speak clearly about Pegasus and the lies that the Israeli company NSO Group is telling by saying that it is only sold to states and that its only objective is to fight against terrorism and save lives, when the data shows that it is a weapon against democracy, against journalism and against human rights and has been used to assassinate people, including journalists such as the Saudi Khassogi or the Mexican Cecilio Pineda. It is already suspicious when we see that the main clients of NSO Group are consolidated democracies such as Morocco or the United Arab Emirates with about 10,000 victims each. It’s also a bit weird that NSO Group says the software is programmed not to be able to spy on US phones. But who takes the cake is Mexico, with more than 15,000 infected phones, mainly by the Peña Nieto government, but it was already used during the Felipe Calderón government. And if we analyze the use that was made, it was for anything except to fight against terrorism and crime and from which I think we could draw some conclusions and anticipate possible surprises that we could find in Spain.

Well, although the greatest activity seems to be espionage, it was carried out during the government of Peña Nieto, the contracting of the software began in the government of Felipe Calderón.

The Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) reported in 2021 that it found 31 contracts in which the company that sold the Pegasus malware provided its services through front companies to government agencies. The contracts were made between 2008 and 2018 in many cases through shell companies for a value of about 6,000 million pesos, equivalent to about 300 million euros, of which it seems that an important element is the diversion of public funds with commissions. important for local operators, something similar to what Carlos Enrique Bayo denounced in Spain. The acquisition of the software was received by at least three agencies in Mexico: the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN), according to the report “Government Spy” of Article 19 and R3D. But the most serious thing is the use that the Government made of it, spying on opposition politicians and their entourage, more than 25 journalists, human rights organizations and activists, trade unionists, including the relatives and lawyers of the Ayotzinapa victims with 43 disappeared students in 2014 with the involvement of the Peña Nieto government.

What has transcended the most has been the political espionage of political rivals such as the current president López Obrador, 50 people close to him such as his wife, children, driver or cardiologist, but even more serious was the espionage of at least 25 journalists, among which would be Cecilio Pineda, who was murdered while washing his car a few weeks after being spied on with which the geolocation system could be used. After he was killed, his phone was stolen.

It also highlights the espionage of Carmen Aristegui, her minor son and two of her collaborators, among them Sebastián Barragán, one of the journalists who participated in the international journalistic investigation project that involved 17 media outlets and uncovered 50,000 victims of espionage in more than 40 countries and that I have had the opportunity to interview him and that we will see next.

Some of Peña Nieto’s educational reforms were responded to by the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), at the forefront of organizing strikes throughout the country. The Mexican government selected dozens of its organizers with Pegasus between 2016 and 2017, many of them were arrested shortly after, which provoked demonstrations calling for their release, which were responded to by the government deploying hundreds of armed police to expel the protesters, which left eight dead and more than 100 injured, including 35 children. But even more unlikely is the espionage of several investigators, relatives and lawyers in the disappearance of the 43 from Ayotzinapa, a case with the participation and cover-up of the Government of Peña Nieto, even the circumstance that Tomás Zerón, director of the agency of criminal investigation of the attorney general’s office (AIC) and one of the signatories of the Pegasus contracts, when the evidence appeared linking him to torture in this case, he was helped by Israel to flee from Mexico and take refuge from the judicial accusations by both Pegasus and for his involvement in Ayotzinapa.

But to learn more precisely about this authentic international scandal, there is no one better than Sebastián Barragán, a journalist for Aristegui Noticias who, in addition to being a victim of espionage, was also one of the main international investigators of the more than 50,000 espionages at the international level.


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