Washington, D.C.—On February 20, the New York Times reported that U.S. officials have repeatedly rejected requests from the Mexican government to collaborate in the investigation of the possible use of Pegasus software to spy on critics of the Mexican government. U.S. officials told the newspaper they believed Mexican officials had little interest in conducting a serious investigation, and that they suspected the Mexican government wanted to use U.S. participation to legitimize an investigation that otherwise lacks credibility.
“The obvious lack of progress in the Mexican government’s investigation into the espionage against journalists and human rights defenders is unacceptable,” said Maureen Meyer, Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights at the Washington Office for Latin America (WOLA), an advocacy group that defends human rights in Latin America. “It is clear that the Mexican government does not want to clarify the facts or fully investigate which government officials were responsible for this illegal espionage, which makes us wonder who is being protected and why. The U.S. government does not want to get involved in the investigation because it questions the Mexican government’s commitment.”
In December 2017, 10 Members of Congress issued a letter urging the State Department to closely monitor the Mexican government’s investigation into the illegal surveillance. “These spyware attacks come in the context of an increasingly concerning situation for human rights defenders and journalists in Mexico…. Attacks against criticism and dissent of the Mexican government this past year have increased in number, gravity, and sophistication,” read the letter.
“This case shows why it is so urgent for Mexico to establish an independent, autonomous National Prosecutor’s Office, as well as a National Anticorruption System with the power to freely investigate anyone who has broken the law by illegally spying on critics of the government, even if it involves investigating the president’s inner circle or his political party,” said Ximena Suárez Enríquez, Deputy Director for Mexico at WOLA.