Mexico condemns NSA's alleged hacking of president's email

The NSA reportedly hacked into an email server used by the Mexican presidency in 2010

The Mexican government has condemned newly reported spying activities of the U.S. National Security Agency against the country's former president while he was in office.

A special division of the U.S. National Security Agency called "Tailored Access Operations" (TAO) hacked into an email server used by the Mexican presidency in 2010 and accessed the email account of Felipe Calderon, Mexico's president at the time, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday.

The information comes from a May 2010 NSA report classified as "top secret" that was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"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," the report said, according to Der Spiegel.

The email server was not only used by President Calderon, but also by members of his cabinet and its compromise reportedly allowed the NSA to access communications related to Mexico's diplomatic, economic and leadership strategies.

Following the successful infiltration of the email server, which was part of an operation code-named "Flatliquid," the Mexican president's office became "a lucrative source" of information for the NSA.

"In light of additional leaks published in international media regarding alleged espionage activities of the NSA, the Mexican government reiterates its categorical condemnation of violations of the privacy of communications of Mexican citizens and institutions," Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday in a statement in Spanish. "This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and contrary to Mexican and international law," the ministry said.

The new accusations of spying come after Brazilian television network Globo reported in September that the NSA intercepted the email and text messages of Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico's current president, in the summer of 2012 while he was a presidential candidate.

During a recent meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Pena Nieto, Obama promised a thorough investigation into the allegations. The same commitment was made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a work meeting in recent days with Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade, the Mexican foreign ministry said.

"In a relationship between neighbors and partners there is no room for practices like those that allegedly took place," the ministry said.

According to previous media reports based on documents leaked by Snowden, the NSA also hacked into the video teleconferencing system at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the computer networks of the European Union diplomatic missions in Washington, D.C., and at the U.N. and the email communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and those of her aides.

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Tags governmentsecurityprivacydata breachintrusionGovernment use of ITExploits / vulnerabilitiesU.S. National Security Agency

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Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
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