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Alejandra Xanic Von Betrab



Alejandra Xanic was selected for surveillance by Mexican client of NSO Group in 2016. Around the same time, her colleague at Quinto Elemento Lab, Ignacio Rodriguez Reyna, was also selected. Forbidden Stories was unable to confirm if the infections were successful: Xanic deleted suspicious messages from her phone and Reyna changed his phone.

Who is she ?

Alejandra Xanic is a Mexican investigative reporter. In 2013, she won the Pulitzer Prize with New York Times reporter David Barstow for a series of articles on Walmart. According to their reporting, the US company had bribed officials in Mexico. Xanic is the first Mexican journalist to win this prize for the “Investigative Reporting” category.

In 2016, she co-founded Quinto Elemento Lab, a investigative news outlet that is behind several major scandals in Mexico. They delved into what had happened to Mexico’s missing persons. In 2018, after a yearlong investigation, they were the first to map out the country’s clandestine graves.

They also did research on the Mexicans involved in the Odebretch corruption scandal, named after the Brazilian construction company accused of having bribed local officials in 12 Latin American countries in order to win million-dollar contracts. Quinto Elemento Lab zoomed in on Emilio Loyoza, the former director of the state-ownned petroleum company Pemex. According to Xanic and Reyna, he received more than three million dollars in bribes while he was coordinating the electoral campaign of Enrique Peña Nieto.

Her work

"How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs to Get Its Way in Mexico" The New York Times (2012)


"El Expediente Secreto de Odebrecht" Quinto Elemento Lab (2017)


"El país de las 2 mil fosas" Quinto Elemento Lab (2018)



Mexican authorities did not respond to Forbidden Stories’ questions about the surveillance of journalists. NSO Group did not answer Forbidden Stories’ questions on specific targets but said it “will continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action based on the results of these investigations.”