Advertisement

Mexico president says his dignity ‘above law’ after criticism for releasing NYT journalist’s number

Mexico president says his dignity ‘above law’ after criticism for releasing NYT journalist’s number

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador slammed YouTube as “authoritarian” after it edited a video of his news conference during which he disclosed the private telephone number of a New York Times journalist.

YouTube removed the video, stating that it violated their policies on harassment and cyberbullying but later republished an edited clip without the reporter’s private information.

Mr Lopez Obrador had read out a letter from the NYT, seeking a comment on a story about a shelved US government investigation looking into allegations that his allies met with and took millions of dollars from drug cartels during his presidential tenure in 2018.

In the same press conference he then proceeded to read out the private phone number of NYT’s Mexico bureau chief Natalie Kitroeff, earning flak for divulging private information.

After the video was released, he claimed that he was "above the personal data protection law, there is the dignity of the president".

Mexico’s freedom of information body INAI said it was initiating a probe into the incident.

However, Mr Lopez Obrador shot back at the platform, accusing it of censorship and said it was acting with an overbearing and authoritarian attitude.

“Due to censorship, YouTube took down our video of the press conference on Thursday, 22 February, because, according to them, it ‘violates community standards.’ This is an arrogant and authoritarian attitude. They are in full decline,” he claimed.

The president, who routinely bashes media in his daily press conferences, also said that the American Statue of Liberty has “become an empty symbol”.

“Fortunately, we began our fight for the country’s transformation by distributing leaflets, not only without support but against the manipulative media of the oligarchy. Neither the power mafia nor the journalism underworld will be able to silence us,” he claimed.

However, he did not speak about the NYT story in question, published just after he revealed the reporter’s phone number. The story speaks about the US never opening a formal investigation into the allegations and that officials ultimately shelved the inquiry.

The president denied all accusations and said it was "completely false".

NYT condemned Mr Lopez Obrador’s act as "a troubling and unacceptable tactic from a world leader".

Mr Lopez Obrador doubled down and said: "She is slandering us and if she is very worried, then she should change her phone number."

Mexico is known as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists outside of war zones, where any private information of a journalist in public domain can backfire. The country is deemed dangerous especially for Mexican journalists investigating criminal gangs and widespread corruption.