Through a statement, the justice body revealed that it seeks to prove the illegality in the purchase and use of the program during the previous government.
The Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) of Mexico revealed the existence of two investigation folders against former officials and others involved in the purchase and use of the Pegasus espionage program during the six-year term of Enrique Peña Nieto (1960-2018).
Through of a statement, issued on 15 October, the justice body reported that the former Attorney General’s Office (PGR) acquired the Israeli manufacturing program “without any justification”.
Folder 1: Illegal purchase
In the first investigation folder, the FGR assures that for the acquisition of the software, whose cost exceeded 456 millions of pesos (23 million dollars), part of the budget for national security was used in an irregular manner, evading the procedures legal public tender.
The main defendant for these crimes, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, is the former director of the PGR Criminal Investigation Agency, Tomás Zerón, who is held responsible for embezzlement of public funds, fraud and criminal association.
Zerón is currently in Israel as a fugitive after being accused of torturing a key witness in the disappearance of 42 normalistas in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, in 2014. Mexican authorities have already asked Tel Aviv for the official’s extradition.
Folder 2: Espionage
In the second file, the authorities claim that the Israeli company NSO Group was illegally selling the program “while, at the same time, using it on its own to deliver the information to other people”.
According to the FGR, the software was used to intercept the communications of journalists and human rights defenders.
For this crime, one of the co-perpetrators, Juan Carlos García, former employee of the Projects and Designs company VME SA de CV, representative of NSO Group in Mexico, was already presented to the authorities in November 2021 and is currently facing an aggravated trial for violating freedom of expression.
Both investigation folders include accusations against other officials and those involved who, for “reasons of secrecy and procedural feasibility”, are not identified for the moment , indicates the FGR.
Currently the authorities are processing arrest warrants against those responsible and report that details will be revealed as the investigations progress.
After the Guacamaya hacker group and journalistic investigations revealed that Pegasus was used by the Secretary of National Defense ( Sedena) to spy on two journalists and a defender of the human rights between 2019 and 2021, during the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the current president was questioned about it.
“We do not spy on anyone, I am speaking the truth (…) It is not true that we spy to journalists or opponents“, said the president during his morning press conference on October 4.
” We are not the same asprevious, it is not true, I made the commitment that no one would be spied on, no opponent (…) In addition to being improper, contrary to our principles, our convictions, we who have been spied on for years, persecuted for years , we could not do the same,” he said.
López Obrador indicated that, contrary to what has been published in this regard, Sedena carries out “Intelligence work” and “not espionage, which is different”.