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Mexican president defends sharing NYT reporter’s number

  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday defended his decision to release a New York Times reporter’s phone number.
  • President López Obrador later stated that “the political and moral authority of the President of Mexico is superior to laws guaranteeing privacy,” and that “no law can override the noble principles of freedom.”
  • López Obrador, a left-wing firebrand, frequently accuses the media of being part of a right-wing conspiracy to undermine him.

Mexico’s president on Friday defended his decision to release a reporter’s phone number, saying laws that prohibit officials from releasing personal information do not apply to him.

Press freedom groups argued Thursday that the president’s decision to release the phone numbers of New York Times reporters is an attempt to punish critical reporting and puts reporters at potential risk.

Mexico’s Personal Data Protection Law states that “the government guarantees the privacy of individuals” and that officials should “improperly use, obtain, disclose, conceal, alter, or destroy personal data, in whole or in part.” and other persons.

Amuro says the Mexican military will take over maintenance of the highway and fill in gaps.

President Andres Manuel López Obrador said, “The political and moral authority of the President of Mexico exceeds the law,” adding, “No law can transcend the noble principles of freedom.” He also accused the US media of acting “arrogantly”.

He also downplayed the risk to journalists, saying it was “an old song you[reporters]use to discredit the government” and suggested Times reporters should “change their phone numbers.” did.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters outside of a war zone. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented the killings of at least 55 journalists in Mexico since López Obrador took office in 2018.

Jean-Albert Hoetssen, CPJ’s Mexico director, said releasing reporters’ phone numbers in Mexico could be risky.

“The vast majority of the threats, harassment and intimidation that domestic and international reporters receive in this country is delivered to their mobile phones through messages on messaging apps,” Hutusen said.

The situation comes after López Obrador on Thursday denied allegations contained in a New York Times article about a U.S. investigation into how people close to him received money from drug traffickers just before the 2018 presidential election and after he took office. It started from.

The article cited unnamed U.S. officials familiar with the investigation, which has now been shelved, and said no formal investigation had begun and it was unclear how much of the informant’s claims had been independently confirmed. He pointed out that.

As usual, before the story was published, a Times reporter sent a letter to President López Obrador’s press secretary requesting the president’s comment on the story and also provided her phone number for contact. It was clearly stated.

During his regular press conference that day, the president displayed the letter on a large screen and read it out loud, including his phone number.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador holds a daily press conference in Mexico City, Mexico, June 10, 2020. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

“This is a troubling and unacceptable tactic by world leaders at a time when threats against journalists are on the rise,” the New York Times wrote in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Asked about the issue at a White House press briefing on Friday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “Obviously, that’s not something we support.”

“It is important for news organizations to be able to report on issues that matter to the American people freely and, of course, in a way that makes you feel safe, secure and free from personal information and attacks. clearly refuses to do so,” she said.

Mexico’s National Institute for Transparency and Access to Information, which is responsible for compliance with personal data laws, announced on Thursday that it would open an investigation into the president’s actions.

But it’s unclear how effective it will be, and López Obrador has frequently criticized the institute and proposed abolishing it.

Leopoldo Maldonado of the press freedom group Article 19 said: “It is clearly an attempt to undermine the work of journalists and prevent them from publishing issues of public interest about the regime and its people.” Stated.

“Presidents have done this before,” Maldonado pointed out.

In 2022, President López Obrador released a graph showing the income of Carlos Loret de Mora, a journalist who wrote articles critical of the president.

The president said he got such information (which Loretto de Mora claims is false) “from the people,” but later said that part of this table was based on tax returns. He said there was. Receipts, he said, were only available to the party or government that produced them. Government Tax Agency.

López Obrador regularly lashes out at the media, claiming they treat him unfairly and are part of a conservative conspiracy to undermine his government.

He has also expressed anger at what he claims is US tolerance of such media coverage. This is the second time in recent weeks that a foreign news outlet has published an article suggesting that the U.S. government is investigating alleged contacts between López Obrador’s allies and drug cartels.

In late January, ProPublica, Deutsche Welle, and Insight Crime reported that during the failed 2006 presidential election, aides to López Obrador’s campaign facilitated the operations of drug traffickers in return. Published an article describing an initial U.S. investigation into whether he received money from drug traffickers.

In doing so, President López Obrador laid the blame squarely at the feet of the U.S. government, questioning aloud why he should continue to discuss issues such as immigration with a government that seeks to harm him. presented.

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National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that “there is no investigation underway against President López Obrador.”

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