Der Spiegel reports: The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has a division for particularly difficult missions. Called “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO), this department devises special methods for special targets.
That category includes surveillance of neighboring Mexico, and in May 2010, the division reported its mission accomplished. A report classified as “top secret” said: “TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account.”
According to the NSA, this email domain was also used by cabinet members, and contained “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico’s political system and internal stability.” The president’s office, the NSA reported, was now “a lucrative source.” [Continue reading...]
The Guardian reports: Two press photographers have been found dead in a canal in the Mexican port city of Veracruz alongside a former cameraman and a fourth body, less than a week after another journalist based in the city was killed in her home.
The state attorney general’s office issued an initial statement identifying photographers Guillermo Luna and Gabriel Huge as among the victims. Both were reportedly working for a local website called Veracruz News and had been missing since the day before.
State authorities later said Esteban Rodríguez, a former cameraman, was also among the dead as well as a woman named as Irasema Becerra, said to be Luna’s girlfriend.
It followed the discovery of Regina Martinez, the Veracruz correspondent of the weekly national news magazine Proceso strangled to death in her home last weekend.
The latest murders underline Veracruz’s current status as the most extreme focal point for attacks against journalists which have become commonplace in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the drug cartels in December 2006 and extreme violence exploded across the country.
Of the nine Mexican journalists killed last year probably because of their work, four were from Veracruz.
Ricardo Gonzalez, of the press freedom activist group Article 19, said journalists in Veracruz are being targeted because of their position “as witnesses to the decomposition of the state.”
Bloggers vow to continue fight against organized crime in Mexico after fourth person killed for online comments
“Remember the bloggers vs. journalists debate?” tweets Jay Rosen “The journalists had to give up and now the bloggers are getting murdered.”
Journalism in the Americas: For the fourth time in two months in the city of Nuevo Laredo in Mexico, a body has been found with a message threatening users of social networks, reported GlobalPost and La Jornada.
The decapitated man was found Wednesday, Nov. 9, with a sign identifying him as “El Rascatripas” (or “Belly Scratcher”), the administrator for the Nuevo Laredo en Vivo website, which allows residents to denounce organized crime in the border city, according to the Associated Press. Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, however, said the body in fact did not belong to any of the site’s moderators.
The decapitated man showed signs of torture, reported Voz de América. His body was found at the Monumento a Colón, the same place where the body of journalist María Elizabeth Macías, alias “La Nena de Laredo” (or Laredo Girl), was found in September after denouncing drug crimes on the Nuevo Laredo En Vivo site.
At the beginning of September the bodies of two youths hanging from a bridge in the same city also were found with similar warnings against using online sites to report on organized crime and drug trafficking. The deaths of the youths and of Macías were attributed to the Mexican cartel of Los Zetas.
The Nuevo Laredo en Vivo website remains online, highlighting a comment Laredo Girl made just days before she was killed: “Yesterday the SEDENA (Secretary of National Defense) rescued six hostages, arresting one of the criminals. We continue denouncing, thanks to your reports.”
The website, created more than a year ago, warns visitors to change their user names but to continue reporting on and denouncing crime in the area.
Ovemex, who writes the blog Borderland Beat, said he was working to create a Twitter manifesto calling for people to unite against crime, and offering tips on how to report safely and anonymously. Ovemex told MSNBC, “These deaths will not be in vain…They cannot kill us all!”
News media in this border city have stopped reporting on the actions and atrocities of organized crime because of the threats against journalists. As such, citizens have turned to social media like Facebook, Twitter and blogs to inform themselves and to denounce crimes. “For Zetas, and the other cartels, the less people talk about them, the better,” columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio told the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
“Don’t be afraid to report,” Nuevo Laredo en Vivo user Anon4024 wrote Nov 9. “This is how we make a difference in this city.”
See this Knight Center map for more information about attacks on journalists in Mexico.