Almost six months after the revelations of “The Pegasus Project”, the General Prosecutor’s Office (FGR) announced the detention of the first accused in the investigation that is trying to prove the illegal use of Pegasus by the Peña Nieto government. This case initiated in 2017 when journalists, human rights defenders and activists filed a complaint against the Mexican State for the illegal espionage network revealed by an article published in the New York Times.
Juan Carlos “G” is accused of illegally monitoring the private communications of at least one journalist with the purpose of “affect, limit and undermine her freedom of speech”. The suspect will remain in jail waiting for the trial because the FGR thinks there is real flight risk. The official recognition of the link between the espionage on the journalist and her investigative work is of outmost importance not only for this case but for all the communicators in Mexico who were affected by attacks, threats and extortions motivated by their work.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists due to the high numbers of murders and disappearances but also because of the alarming rate of impunity, that reaches 95%. The acquisition of the Pegasus software by the former president Enrique Peña Nieto deepened that situation: almost 15000 people were spied only in Mexico and 26 of them were journalists. These numbers might be even higher given that the investigations only cover a limited period of time.
The Sindicato Nacional de Redactores de la Prensa (SNRP), the national journalists union, referred to this issue: “the SNRP values positively the action taken by the Government of investigating and prosecuting a man in the case of the illegal espionage of journalists, activists and human rights defenders. The SNRP hopes that the current inquiries will find all those responsible, both State and private ones, in Mexico and in all of the countries where this spyware was used”.
The International Federation of Journalists celebrates this first step taken by the FGR and the Special Prosecutors Office for the Crimes Committed Against the Freedom of Speech (FEADLE) in the investigation to determine the reach of the state espionage against journalists, activists and human rights defenders. Also demands that this is only the starting point to find all those responsible who used the power of the State to monitor and silence critical voices.