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  • An activist protests against the murder of journalists in Mexico, outside the building of Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression in Mexico City.

    An activist protests against the murder of journalists in Mexico, outside the building of Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression in Mexico City. | Photo: Reuters

The investigation responds to a new report that alleged that critics of the Mexican government have been under state surveillance.

Mexico's head of the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes Against the Freedom of Expression, known as Feadle, Ricardo Sanchez Perez, has opened an investigation into the government's alleged espionage activities targeting journalists and human rights activists.

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Sanchez Perez held talks with members of the media and the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday.

He said a complaint has been filed and the appropriate steps will be taken.

The probe follows a report in the New York Times on Monday which alleged that critics of the Mexican government have been under surveillance by intelligence agencies using an Israeli spying system called Pegasus.

According to the report, the company that sold the software, NSO Group, says it sells it "exclusively to governments, with an explicit agreement that it be used only to battle terrorists or the drug cartels and criminal groups."

Mexico's Digital Rights Defense Network also said it had found evidence to back up the claims.

The organization's researchers said they have discovered 88 cases of attempted espionage.

In each case, the targets received a text message on a smartphone that when clicked installed the spyware on the device.

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The software gives the attacker access to all the phone’s files as well as the ability to control the camera and microphone.

Human rights groups, victims of crimes, reporters and lawyers are said to have been targeted.

Several representatives attended Wednesday's meeting with the special prosecutor.

The Mexican government has strongly denied the allegations and the Minster of the Interior Osorio Chong said, "We reject any kind of espionage or investigation about journalists, human rights or NGO advocates."

He also reiterated that the authorities refute claims that the intelligence agencies have been using "any instrument for monitoring or spying on any means of communication."

The release of the report on alleged government spying came just days after the one month anniversary of the murder of renowned Mexican journalist Javier Valdez, sparking a fresh wave of protests demanding justice and protection for journalists. 


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