Interior Secretary Osorio Chong. Interior Secretary Osorio Chong.

No spyware at Cisen, Osorio to lawmakers

Interior secretary also discusses this year's surge in violence

The interior secretary denied this week that his department had been involved in the purchase of spyware that was revealed last summer to have been used against journalists and activists.

In an appearance before lawmakers yesterday in Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong also touched on the surge of violence that has been sweeping the nation, next year’s elections and his own political aspirations.

He insisted that the Center for Investigation and National Security, or Cisen, had not purchased or used the spyware suite known as Pegasus. Its purchase by Mexican authorities became evident after dozens of people had been targeted with text messages that installed the spyware on their smartphones.

The Attorney General’s office has been identified as a purchaser of the Pegasus spyware, paying US $32 million for it three years ago.

“Cisen is my responsibility and it did not have this protocol, the program called Pegasus. We did not purchase it and we’re going to be more than open to allow the investigation to reach its conclusion.”

The investigation by the Attorney General’s office is still ongoing.

The official responsible for the country’s internal security went on to explain that historically high levels of violence this year correspond to crimes that fall under state jurisdiction, known as delitos del fuero común, as opposed to those prosecuted at the federal level.

Those state crimes, he said, represented three out of every 10 crimes reported in 2011, but last year they shot up to five out of every 10.

“The data indicates that, unlike 2011, we’re dealing with a phenomenon of violence that has a federal component of organized crime, but is aggravated in large part by fuero común crimes, which are under local jurisdiction,” he said.

Osorio also observed that an institutional disparity between the federal and state levels represents a challenge. The former has professional institutions at its disposal, such as the Army, the Navy, and the Federal Police. But there are shortcomings at the local level: he said close to 600 municipalities don’t have their own proper police forces.

A question for many political observers is whether Osorio will run for president next year. He had been seen as a front-runner among potential candidates for the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party but soaring crime rates may have put an end to any such aspirations.

He referred tangentially to the issue yesterday by remarking that all Mexicans have their goals and aspirations and that his own are set in fulfilling his role as interior secretary.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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