Rafael Rodriguez Castañeda was selected for surveillance with by a Mexican client of NSO Group in 2016. Forbidden Stories could not confirm the infection since Rodriguez did not keep the phone he used in 2016.
Who is he?
Rafael Rodriguez Castañeda was the director of the Mexican weekly magazine Proceso for 21 years until he retired in January 2020. He participated in the founding of the magazine in 1976 before becoming editor-in-chief three years later. Due to his function as director, he was frequently in touch with all the journalists working for the magazine.
In 2016, the weekly was reporting on several sensitive issues, including the evasion and following capture of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, commonly known as El Chapo, a major concern of the then President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Proceso also published multiple investigations on the Mexican political world. In February 2016, in collaboration with Aristegui Noticias, they revealed that Peña Nieto had a priest fired in order to get his first marriage canceled and be able to marry again religiously.
In April 2016, Proceso published, along with dozens of international newspapers, the Panama Papers, an investigation into offshore companies that implicated Mexican businessmen close to Peña Nieto. Among them was Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantú who had won many public bidding thanks to his administration.
Mexican authorities did not answer Forbidden Stories’ questions on 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.”