Mexico's president defends decision to share journalist's phone number


  • World
  • Tuesday, 27 Feb 2024

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures as he attends the 85th anniversary of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), at the National Museum of World Cultures, in Mexico City, Mexico February 6, 2024. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's president on Monday shared a letter from the New York Times' bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean for the second time and defended his decision last week to share her private telephone number publicly.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador shared the letter from the Times' Natalie Kitroeff to his head of communications at his morning press conference, although the version on Monday obscured the telephone number which he had made public on Thursday.

The president, however, defended the release of the number, arguing that by sending it to a government communications official Kitroeff had made it public.

"Journalism is a public activity, like politics, and we all have to act with transparency," Lopez Obrador said.

The letter sought comment from the president's office on an investigation into a shelved U.S. government investigation into allegations that Lopez Obrador allies met with and took millions of dollars from drug cartels after he took office in 2018.

The Mexican president has denied the allegations.

Lopez Obrador's release of Kitroeff's phone number raised concerns in Mexico, which is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters outside of war zones.

Mexico's freedom of information body INAI said it was initiating an investigation into the publication of the number. The Times called Lopez Obrador's disclosure of the number "a troubling and unacceptable tactic from a world leader."

The president criticized YouTube on Sunday after the company removed the video of his news conference on Thursday in which he revealed the phone number.

A spokesperson for the tech company told Reuters that YouTube's "harassment policies strictly prohibit content that reveals someone's personally identifiable information, including their phone number."

YouTube "removed and issued a strike to the channels containing the video that violate this policy," the spokesperson said.

An edited version without Kitroeff's private information was later published.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Boyle; Additional reporting from Sarah Kinosian; Editing by Paul Simao)

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