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Mexico makes first arrest in Pegasus espionage scandal

Santiago de Querétaro, State of Querétaro — The Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) reports the arrest of one of those believed involved in Pegasus espionage.

According to the Fiscalía General de la República (FGR), Juan Carlos G, involved in illegal espionage with the Pegasus software during the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, has been arrested.

In a statement, it was reported that the FGR “obtained an arrest warrant against Juan Carlos G for his probable responsibility in the commission of the crime of illegal intervention of communications aggravated to the detriment of a journalist, using software known publicly as “Pegasus”.

The agency detailed that on November 1, elements of the Federal Ministerial Police (PFM), completed said arrest warrant in the city of Querétaro. Juan Carlos G was immediately transferred to the South Prison in Mexico City.

“That same day (November 1), the agents of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), assigned to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), made an accusation against the detainee for his probable responsibility in the commission of the crime foreseen and sanctioned in article 177 of the Federal Criminal Code, aggravated in terms of article 51, third paragraph of the same order, since it was committed against a journalist with the purpose of affecting, limiting and impairing her freedom of expression,” said the FGR.

“As a precautionary measure, it was determined that this person will remain in justified preventive detention, derived from the danger of escape and the risks that it represents for public safety and for the people related to the process,” said the Prosecutor’s Office.

This year, it became known that hundreds of politicians, human rights activists, trade unionists and executives from 50 countries, including Mexico, were targets of espionage by governments that used Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO.

Local media identified the detainee Juan Carlos G as an employee of the company Proyectos y Diseños VME, which is one of the companies that the Secretary of Security, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, denounced in July as having had 31 contracts related to the NSO Group and Pegasus for an amount of $61 million USD from 2011 to 2018, in the two previous federal governments.

The defunct Center for Research and National Security (Cisen) had four contracts with VME Projects and Designs, the secretary said at the daily press conference at the National Palace.

The Pegasus scandal shook Mexico in July, when an investigation by international media uncovered that around 15,000 cases of spying were in Mexico during the Government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018).

The recent arrest announced is the first known in the case.