Mexican opposition lawmaker says he was target of Pegasus spyware

Mexican opposition congressman Agustin Basave Alanis said on Tuesday his phone was infected by Pegasus.

The logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group is seen at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
The logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group is seen at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Mexican opposition congressman Agustin Basave Alanis said on Tuesday his phone was infected by Pegasus, the fourth alleged case of the controversial spyware being deployed under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who had vowed to stop using it.

Federal lawmaker Basave from the center-left Citizens' Movement in the wealthy northern city of Monterrey said an analysis from leading cyber watchdog Citizen Lab found Pegasus on his phone in September 2021.

Reuters could not independently confirm Citizen Lab's findings.

Basave's allegation comes after a report this month from Mexican digital rights group R3D showed that phones belonging to two journalists and an activist were infected between 2019 and 2021.

Lopez Obrador, who took office in late 2018, denied spying on opponents or journalists when asked recently about the three cases. He added the military did conduct intelligence work, but that this was "not spying."

An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

His office did not immediately reply to a request for comment about Basave.

Pegasus belongs to Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, which typically only sells the software to governments or law enforcement.

Who is Agustin Basave?

"This is a very powerful tool ... a violation of my most personal spaces and communications," Basave told Reuters.

The son of a noted opposition politician of the same name, Basave is close to Monterrey Mayor Luis Donaldo Colosio, whose father, an icon of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was assassinated in 1994.

Colosio has also been deemed a potential contender for the presidency after Lopez Obrador's term ends in 2024.

Basave added that he hoped an investigation would show who was responsible and prevent further hacks.

"My concern is around the impunity and the conditions to get away with something like this," he said.

When asked about Basave's case, NSO Group said Citizen Lab investigations are not able to differentiate between NSO tools and other cyber intelligence software.

Citizen Lab said it rejects that assertion.