Mexico’s AMLO Accuses Pentagon of Spying, Dialing Up Tensions With US

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ratcheted up the political infighting with the US by saying Tuesday his country has been a target of espionage by the Pentagon.

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AMLO, as the president is known, said the Mexican government needs to safeguard classified information to protect its “national security and defend its sovereignty,” arguing without showing proof the country is subject to spying by units of its northern neighbor including the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“We’re going to take care of information from the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense because we’re the object of espionage by the Pentagon,” AMLO told reporters during his daily press briefing, adding that several media organization in Mexico are “leaking information provided by the DEA.”

AMLO’s comments come amid growing controversy over the Mexican military’s role in domestic security activities, which have greatly expanded with Lopez Obrador’s creation of the National Guard. The country’s Supreme Court annulled on Tuesday the move that put the National Guard under control of the military, ruling it as unconstitutional, local media reported.

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On Monday, the Court invalidated military powers to carry out searches and spying in investigations against Mexicans and civil authorities, local media reported. AMLO referred to the ruling during the conference, saying that “no intelligence investigation can be used if there is no court order.”

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While Mexico has generally good political relationships with its main trading partner, the nationalist AMLO has been increasing rhetoric against the US in recent months as general elections approach in both countries next year.

The Pentagon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on AMLO’s remarks.

Espionage has become a hot topic after U.S. classified documents started appearing on social media sites in recent weeks in one of the largest leaks in a decade, exposing reports the U.S. has been gathering intelligence on its diplomatic allies.

Mexico is guarding information “for security because we feel that they are trying to violate our sovereignty in an interventionist plan,” AMLO said.

--With assistance from Nick Wadhams.

(Updates fourth paragraph to add court decision)

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