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7 Mar 2023

Article 19

Mexico: The Army used NSO Group's Pegasus spyware on HRD communicating with journalists, according to investigation

"Mexico: Army used Pegasus to spy on human rights defender Raymundo Ramos", 07 March 2023

...Internal documents from Mexico’s Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) conclusively show that the Mexican Army used a secret military intelligence unit to spy on human rights defender Raymundo Ramos using Pegasus spyware, with the purpose of accessing and interfering in the investigations of extrajudicial executions in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and that this took place with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defense.

The evidence, provided by the Ejército Espía investigation – in collaboration with Animal Político, Aristegui Noticias and Proceso – reveals a secret military intelligence briefing sheet, which was leaked by the Guacamaya collective. It gives an account of private conversations between Raymundo Ramos and journalists from El Universal, Televisa and El País relating to the case of extrajudicial executions by the Army in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, on 3 July, 2020.

The conversations cited in the briefing occurred between 16 August and 26 August 2020, dates that coincide with the period when Ramos was targeted by Pegasus, according to an updated report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. The communications occurred through encrypted messaging applications, so they could only have been obtained with a tool like Pegasus...

The spying on Raymundo Ramos was illegal, since the Armed Forces are not legally permitted to intervene in private communications of civilians. – nor is there any record of a judicial authorisation to surveil Ramos’ communications, according to the Federal Judicary itself...