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NSA Spied on Mexican Government for Years

New Snowden leaks reported on by German magazine Der Spiegel show Mexico was systematic target of NSA surveillance

A June 2012 photo shows then-President of Mexico Felipe Calderon talking with President Obama ahead of a G20 session. (Photo: Gobierno Federal/cc/flickr)

The National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on top Mexican officials, including the president, for years, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.

The news marks the latest revelation of vast surveillance by the NSA made possible by leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Der Spiegel reports that a spying operation dubbed "Flatliquid" was carried out by the NSA's "Tailored Access Operations" (TAO) department, which accessed in 2010 what the agency found to be "a lucrative source"—an email domain used by then-President Felipe Calderon and cabinet members.

The paper also revealed that in 2009, a separate successful NSA operation dubbed "Whitetamale" allowed the agency to hack into the emails of high-ranking officials in Mexico's Public Security Secretariat.  Der Spiegel reports:

This hacking operation allowed the NSA not only to obtain information on several drug cartels, but also to gain access to "diplomatic talking-points." In the space of a single year, according to the internal documents, this operation produced 260 classified reports that allowed US politicians to conduct successful talks on political issues and to plan international investments.

The tone of the document that lists the NSA's "tremendous success" in monitoring Mexican targets shows how aggressively the US intelligence agency monitors its southern neighbor. "These TAO accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning -- we intend to go much further against this important target," the document reads. It goes on to state that the divisions responsible for this surveillance are "poised for future successes."

Last month, other documents leaked by Snowden showed that the NSA accessed the email accounts and telephones of both current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

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