We’re pleased to announce that National Security Archive investigators Michael Evans and Jesse Franzblau have been officially nominated for the Gabriel García Márquez Award for news coverage (“Cobertura”). The nomination was based on a joint investigation between the Archive’s Mexico project staff and MVS Noticias revealing newly-declassified evidence of a secret U.S. espionage facility in Mexico City. Nine members of the MVS team, including host Carmen Aristegui and journalists Irving Huerta and Daniel Lizárraga, are named along with Evans and Franzblau for their work on the story.
The three-part series prompted a response from top Mexican lawmakers, who demanded an investigation of the “Mexico Fusion Center” revealed in a “Secret” 2010 memorandum exchanged between two top Pentagon officials and obtained by the Archive under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The document was declassified as part of an ongoing project between Archive researchers and investigative journalists in Mexico to jointly investigate state secrecy, security assistance and migrant abuses.
The Center described in the memo was a U.S.-operated intelligence cell in Mexico City focused on “high value targeting” that barred Mexican officials and included members of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The Agency’s domestic and international espionage activities have been the subject of intense scrutiny since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a massive cache of classified NSA documents to journalists in 2013. Among other things, the records revealed that the NSA had intercepted the personal email accounts of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (while a leading presidential candidate) and his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, along with dozens of other world leaders, who are identified in the Snowden documents as “High Value Targets.”
Despite the declassified memo, NSA still refuses to acknowledge its participation in the Mexico Fusion Center and says that it can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records on the subject (the dreaded “Glomar” response).
The Gabriel García Márquez Foundation was established in 1994 by the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian author and awards the Premio Gabriel García Márquez de periodismo “to encourage the pursuit of excellence, innovation and ethical coherence by journalists and media outlets that work and publish in Spanish and Portuguese languages throughout the Americas (including the United States and Canada) and the Iberian Peninsula, inspired by the ideals that led to Gabriel García Márquez to build his foundation and the dynamics of innovation, creativity and leadership that characterize the city of Medellín.”