Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s government condemned the U.S. National Security Agency’s alleged hacking of the e-mail account of then-President Felipe Calderon in 2010, saying such actions are unacceptable and violate international law.
“In a relationship between neighbors and partners, there’s no room for the practices that allegedly took place,” the Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, reiterating its call for President Barack Obama’s administration to conduct an exhaustive investigation of NSA conduct.
Germany’s Spiegel reported yesterday that in an operation called “Flatliquid,” the NSA used a server to gain access to Calderon’s account and the Mexican presidential domain used by cabinet members for diplomatic and economic communications. Spiegel cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The U.S. gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations, the NSA said in a statement yesterday, declining to comment on the specific case reported by Spiegel. The U.S. is reviewing the way it gathers intelligence to balance concern for the security of American citizens and allies against privacy concerns, the agency said.
Calderon, who became a fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after leaving office, said on his Twitter account today that he spoke with Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade and asked him to convey Calderon’s strongest protest against the alleged hacking that targeted him.
The reported acts of espionage “more than personal, are an affront to the nation’s institutions, since they were carried out during my tenure as president of the republic,” he said.
The allegations follow a report on Brazilian TV news magazine “Fantastico” last month, based on documents from Snowden obtained by American journalist Glenn Greenwald, that the U.S. accessed text messages sent by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto last year, when he was a front-runner in the election campaign, discussing potential cabinet picks. Pena Nieto took office in December after defeating the candidate from Calderon’s National Action Party, or PAN.
In response to last month’s report, Mexico’s government summoned the U.S. ambassador in Mexico City, Anthony Wayne, for consultations.
Allegations from the same “Fantastico” report that the U.S. had spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sparked outrage in Latin America’s biggest economy and led her to call off a state visit to Washington.
Mexico’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee today asked for a meeting with Wayne and Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Eduardo Medina Mora to discuss the alleged spying. At a news conference today, Senator Gabriela Cuevas, the committee’s head and a member of Calderon’s PAN, also called on the Attorney General’s office to report on any probes already started into espionage allegations and punish the people responsible for the alleged acts.
Obama met with Rousseff and Pena Nieto during the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in St. Petersburg, Russia last month to discuss the allegations made about the NSA, the U.S. leader said at a news conference on Sept. 6. He also said that the U.S. should review the spy programs to determine if they should continue. He later called Rousseff in attempt to keep Brazil’s first state visit to the U.S. in almost two decades on track. She canceled less than a day later Sept. 17.
The latest report is unlikely to derail cooperation between the Pena Nieto and Obama administrations or provoke the same level of reaction as in Brazil, said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
The U.S. buys about 80 percent of Mexico’s exports, and the nations work together on security and immigration issues along their almost 2,000-mile border.
“It’s in the interests of both sides to keep things moving ahead,” Wood said in a phone interview. “Brazil and the United States are not nearly as interdependent as Mexico and the United States. For Mexico the overriding priority is going to be to protect the economic relationship with the United States. You don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes that or puts roadblocks in the way.”
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