Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday denied his government carried out unauthorized monitoring of its citizens, responding to a report that accused the military of hacking the communications of a prominent human rights activist.
“We have to do investigations, but not spying, that’s different,” Lopez Obrador said in response to a question at a news conference, before complaining that several Mexican media outlets that published the allegations were biased against him.
“I can guarantee we don’t spy on anyone,” he said. “There’s nothing illegal.”
Mexican digital rights group R3D, along with other media, published documents this week that it said showed the armed forces had access to messages sent by rights activist Raymundo Ramos, who represents victims of military abuses in the violent northern state of Tamaulipas.
Before taking office in 2018, Lopez Obrador vowed his government would not spy on its citizens, saying he had been a victim of this himself.
After reports in October that controversial spyware Pegasus was used on the phones of some activists and journalists, including Ramos, Lopez Obrador denied that his government spied on journalists or opponents.
It did use some kind of intelligence technology to fight crime, but he did not think it was Pegasus, he said on Friday.
Mexico’s defense ministry said it did not have any information on the matter. It has previously said it had contracted Pegasus from 2011 to 2013, without using the service for spying.
R3D, along with Toronto-based digital watchdog group Citizen Lab, previously documented that Ramos’ phone had been targeted by Pegasus in 2020, including dates that coincide with the alleged spying documented in R3D’s latest report.
When pressed by a reporter from news site Animal Politico, one of the media that broke the story, Lopez Obrador said he had not communicated with the military about the Ramos case but that he trusted the institution, calling Animal Politico’s reporting on the matter untrue.