Mexico president defends publicizing NYT reporter’s phone number News
EneasMx, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedida Commons
Mexico president defends publicizing NYT reporter’s phone number

Mexican President Andres Manuel Obrador claimed that “political authority” is above the country’s data privacy laws on Friday after he released a New York Times (NYT) reporter’s phone number.

Obrador, who was accused in a report from NYT of taking millions of dollars for his 2006 campaign from the Sinaloa drug cartel, had on Thursday displayed the NYT reporter’s letter, including her phone number, on a large screen and read it aloud during one of his press briefings. The reporter had sent the letter to Obrador to solicit his comment on the story before it was published.

Obrador justified his actions by saying the dignity of the presidency was at stake. He also stated that he represents the country and people of Mexico, who deserve respect. The president accused journalists of being funded by vested interest groups, slander and failing to reflect on the media’s shortcomings. He then stated that he would reveal another journalist’s phone number if that journalist impugned the dignity of the president of Mexico. Obrador contrasted the situation in Mexico and the United States, using Julian Assange’s ongoing extradition case, claiming that NYT was also responsible for releasing national security information.

NYT replied to Obrador, saying:

This is a troubling and unacceptable tactic from a world leader at a time when threats against journalists are on the rise. We have since published the findings from this investigation and stand by our reporting and the journalists who pursue the facts where they lead.

Human rights advocates have reported that violence against journalists has increased by 85% under Obrador as compared to his predecessor. Mexico currently ranks 128th on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, which compares the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media across 180 countries and territories.