Pegasus hacking software targeted lawyer, three family members of Ayotzinapa 43 in Mexico: The Guardian

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: PBI-Mexico was present as thousands marched in Mexico City on September 26, 2020 to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the forcible disappearance of 43 students from a progressive, mostly Indigenous teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa.

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.”

The Guardian has also noted that: “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.”

Pegasus linked to Ayotzinapa

On July 19, The Guardian linked Pegasus to Ayotzinapa.

The Guardian explains: “On 26 September 2014, 43 young men from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers’ college in Guerrero state were abducted by police officers colluding with a local crime faction.”

“Amid growing outcry, the government was forced to accept an international investigation by a team of experts with diplomatic status, known as GIEI [the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts].”

It has been previously revealed that a phone belonging to a member of GIEI was targeted by Pegasus in March 2016.

Now, The Guardian reports: “The leaked data seen by the Pegasus project shows that at least one other GIEI phone was selected as a candidate for surveillance, as were those belonging to relatives of at least three of the victims.”

“They include Melitón Ortega, the uncle of 19-year-old Mauricio Ortega, who became a spokesperson for the families as they campaigned for justice.”

That article also highlights: “As details of the state’s role in the attack and cover-up emerged, the director and lawyer of a human rights nonprofit group representing families of the victims were also selected by the armed forces and Cisen, analysis of the information suggests.”

That lawyer is Vidulfo Rosales of the “Tlachinollan” Human Rights Centre, an organization accompanied by the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project.

Rosales says: “[The government] felt pressure and began a smear campaign against experts, parents and representatives of the GIEI … They tried to tap my phones and misrepresented many conversations, making them public to discredit the work we were doing.”

The full article can be read here.

Tlachinollan lawyer Vidulfo Rosales Sierra.

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