Mexico calls on U.S. to widen spy probe after new allegations

GENEVA Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:17pm EDT

Mexico's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Adam Hunger

Mexico's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Adam Hunger

GENEVA (Reuters) - Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade called on the United States on Tuesday to widen an investigation into spying to include allegations that a U.S. government agency hacked former President Felipe Calderon's public email account.

Mexico scolded Washington on Sunday after a German magazine reported that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) hacked Calderon's public email account while he was president.

Weekly Der Spiegel said an NSA division, known as "Tailored Access Operations," reported in May 2010 that it had gained access to then-president Calderon's email account.

The magazine said the NSA succeeded in hacking a central server in the network of the Mexican presidency that was used by other members of Calderon's Cabinet, yielding a trove of information on diplomatic and economic matters.

It said details of the alleged hacking were contained in a document leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The leaks have prompted angry recriminations against Washington in Latin America, particularly Brazil.

Meade, speaking at a news conference in Geneva ahead of a U.N. review of Mexico's human rights record, was asked whether Mexico might curtail intelligence cooperation on issues including drug trafficking or counterterrorism.

"President (Barack) Obama, in conversations with (Mexican President Enrique) Pena Nieto ... gave his word that there was going to be an investigation around this issue. He said that he had not authorized any spying on Mexico," Meade said.

"We want the investigation to be expanded to include the most recent allegations that not only citizens, but the presidency, could have been spied upon," he added, calling for a swift probe and for anyone responsible to be identified.

Meade said Pena Nieto had instructed him to summon the U.S. ambassador to Mexico to demand updates on the U.S. government's findings.

"Mexico is convinced that the espionage practices mentioned constitute a violation of norms, an abuse of trust built between partner countries and does not do honor to the historic friendship between our nations," he said.

"We will be waiting for the response before deciding whether any additional action is warranted."

Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said in Mexico City that Pena Nieto had ordered a probe into whether any Mexican officials at the time had compromised government communications.

"The investigation must determine if there is any evidence related to the cited (allegations), or whether there any citizens or public functionaries who intentionally or through neglect ... behaved in such a way that constituted a violation of the privacy of government communications," Chong said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Simon Gardner and Stacey Joyce)