President López Obrador on Tuesday accused the United States Department of Defense of spying on Mexico’s federal government, his second claim of espionage against the U.S. government in as many days.
“We’re now going to safeguard the information of the Navy Ministry and Defense Ministry because we’re a target of espionage of the Pentagon,” he told reporters at his daily morning news conference.
López Obrador’s assertion came a day after he accused the United States government of “abusive interference” and espionage in Mexico in light of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s revelation that it had infiltrated the Sinaloa Cartel.
The president’s claim on Wednesday followed The Washington Post’s publication of an article that cited a leaked document in which “U.S. military officials assessed the implications of the Mexican military assuming oversight and control of civilian aviation.”
The Post, which said that the document was leaked via the popular online messaging platform Discord, also reported that Navy Minister José Rafael Ojeda Durán “was so frustrated by the possibility that the Mexican army would take control of all Mexican airspace that he ‘instructed navy officials to limit cooperation with … [the Ministry of National Defense] in response.’”
“The briefing notes the potential for worsening tensions among Mexico’s armed forces, ‘a dispute that will likely exacerbate their existing rivalry and further detract from their ability to conduct joint operations,’” the newspaper said, adding that there was no indication that the document was derived from U.S. wiretaps or intercepts of Mexican authorities.
Despite this, López Obrador pointed to the Washington Post article as evidence of his claim that the Pentagon is spying on the Mexican armed forces.
He also asserted that “a lot of media outlets in Mexico are leaking information that the DEA gives them.”
United States agencies want to “interfere” in Mexico like they did during previous governments, López Obrador said. “They want to be in charge, violate our sovereignty, so they start leaking [information], supposedly to weaken us politically.”
López Obrador said that sensitive military information needs to be protected for reasons of national security “because we feel that they’re wanting to violate our sovereignty in an interventionist plan, using the sold or rented press in our country as a tool.”
A Pentagon spokesman told the news agency Reuters that the United States Department of Defense has a “strong collaborative defense partnership” with the Mexican military, and that the entities tackle common challenges “while respecting each other’s sovereignty and respective foreign policy agendas.”
The Pentagon’s spokesman’s remarks appear to amount to a denial that the Pentagon has spied on Mexico’s army and navy.
Official documents allegedly posted to Discord by 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, however, indicated that the United States has recently spied on some of its allies, including South Korea and Ukraine.
López Obrador on Tuesday reiterated that his government doesn’t spy on anyone, contradicting a New York Times report that said that Mexican authorities used the Israeli-made spyware Pegasus as recently as in the second half of last year to infiltrate the cellphones of two leading human rights defenders.
On Wednesday, he admitted that there are “differences” between the navy and the army, as The Washington Post reported, but asserted that the issue was not newsworthy.
“What’s the story leaked from the Pentagon to The Washington Post? So what if the Ministry of the Navy is fighting with the Ministry of Defense. Don’t they fight over there [in the United States]? What’s the story?” López Obrador said.
“Do you want more information? The Ministry of Finance fights with the Federal Electricity Commission every day. Pemex [fights] with the Finance Ministry, the Economy Ministry [fights] with the Finance Ministry; each has its own opinion. That’s the most normal thing,” he said.