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Mexico slams US spying as ‘unacceptable’

July 11, 2013

Following reports that the United States has been spying on Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto warned on Wednesday that such action would be “totally unacceptable.”

Citing documents leaked by fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, Brazilian newspaper O Globo alleged this week that Mexico and many other Latin American states have been the victim of electronic espionage by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

The NSA has been secretly seizing web traffic and hacking into phone calls in order to  gather information on the war on drugs and Mexico’s energy sector, O Globo reported. U.S. allies Brazil, Chile and Colombia were also reportedly targeted, as well as regional foes Ecuador and Venezuela.

These revelations follow reports by British daily The Guardian that the Mexican embassy in Washington was among 38 diplomatic missions targeted by U.S. intelligence services. Also citing documents leaked by Snowden, The Guardian said spying methods ranged “from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae.”

Speaking in Chihuahua this week, Peña Nieto said his government had asked “quite clearly” for an explanation about the spying allegations. “We want to know if this is the case, and if it is so, it would obviously be totally unacceptable,” he said.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry also released a statement affirming that “relations between countries are conducted with respect and adherence to the legal framework.” Mexico “strongly condemns any deviation from this practice,” the statement added.

Yet another revelation came on Wednesday when Mexican daily Excelsior reported that the Felipe Calderon administration had signed a contract in 2007 permitting the United States to install a system to monitor phone and internet communications in Mexico. The initial aim of the facility was to “deter, prevent and mitigate widespread criminal activity in Mexico like drugs trafficking and terrorism,” Excelsior reported.

“The Attorney General is reviewing the documentation regarding this apparent agreement. We are going to verify if it exists and under what conditions,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said in response to the claims.

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