Mexican journalist murdered in Guerrero among names listed in Guardian report on Pegasus hacking software

Published by Brent Patterson on

Share This Page

Image of press card of Cecilio Pineda Birto from El Periodico.

On July 18, The Guardian reported: “Human rights activists, journalists and lawyers across the world have been targeted by authoritarian governments using hacking software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group.”

That article further explains: “Pegasus is a malware that infects iPhones and Android devices to enable operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones.”

More than 15,000 telephone numbers in Mexico

“The consortium’s analysis of the leaked data identified at least 10 governments believed to be NSO customers who were entering numbers into a system.”

“Analysis of the data suggests the NSO client country that selected the most numbers – more than 15,000 – was Mexico, where multiple different government agencies are known to have bought Pegasus.”

25 Mexican journalists on the list

“[Cecilio Pineda Birto] was among at least 25 Mexican journalists apparently selected as candidates for surveillance over a two-year period.”

Journalist murdered in Guerrero

“The phone number of a freelance Mexican reporter, Cecilio Pineda Birto, was found in the list, apparently of interest to a Mexican client in the weeks leading up to his murder, when his killers were able to locate him at a carwash.”

Another article in The Guardian further reports: “The 38-year-old freelance reporter was shot dead on 2 March 2017 in Ciudad Altamirano, a town in the southern Mexican region of Tierra Caliente – a battleground for rival organised crime factions.”

“A few hours earlier, Pineda had in a broadcast on Facebook Live accused state police and local politicians of colluding with a violent local capo known as El Tequilero.”

Journalist had sought help of Mexico’s protection mechanism

That article also notes: “In 2015 he contacted the federal protection mechanism for human rights workers and journalists, a quasi-independent agency within the home affairs ministry. …Officials acknowledged the gravity of the situation but closed Pineda’s case because he refused to relocate to another state.”

The Guardian adds: “Our investigation suggests Pineda was selected as a possible target by Mexico’s ministry of defence, NSO’s first client.”

One of the key findings in the PBI-WOLA report Turning the Tide on Impunity was that: “Mexican authorities are frequently identified as the perpetrators behind crimes against journalists and human rights defenders. Public officials were determined to be the likely aggressors in 39 percent of cases the Mechanism has overseen.”

More names to come

The Guardian notes that in the coming days it will reveal more names, including those of human rights defenders, who have been targeted through Pegasus.

For the full articles noted above, see:

Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon

Revealed: murdered journalist’s number selected by Mexican NSO client

Share This Page
Categories: News Updates


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *