Members of the Mexican army are seen in Ciudad Juarez on August 16, 2022. Military authorities were recently revealed to have surveilled an activist's communications with journalists. (Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez)

CPJ condemns Mexican military surveillance of activist’s communications with journalists

Mexico City, March 7, 2023 – In response to multiple reports published Tuesday stating that Mexican authorities surveilled human rights activist Raymundo Ramos’ conversations with journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:

“The revelations that Mexican authorities have continued to spy on activists, including their communications with reporters, is a shocking confirmation that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s promises to do away with illegal surveillance have not been realized,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “The previous failure to hold officials engaged in spying to account all but guaranteed that little would change. Only a credible, swift, and transparent investigation into these abuses will show that the government is taking such actions seriously.”

Joint reporting published Tuesday, March 7, by The New York Times and the independent Mexican outlet Aristegui Noticias showed that military authorities used Pegasus surveillance software designed by the Israeli firm NSO Group to spy on Ramos.

According to that reporting, an intelligence unit with Mexico’s Defense Secretariat attacked Ramos’ phone on numerous occasions between 2019 and 2020, and listened in on conversations he had with journalists at the newspaper El Universal about alleged extrajudicial executions of civilians in the northern state of Tamaulipas. The documents also revealed that the secretariat accused Ramos of working for a criminal gang in the state.

López Obrador, who assumed office in 2018, pledged that his government would end surveillance and denied the continued use of Pegasus. Past investigations into the use of Pegasus have not led to the arrest of public officials allegedly responsible for the surveillance.