Mexico’s Freedom of Information Institute, a government agency, said Thursday it would launch an investigation into the president’s disclosure on national television of the personal cell phone number of a New York Times journalist who had reported on an investigation. about possible links between drug traffickers and close allies of the president.

The investigation focuses on a move by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a televised news conference Thursday that left many horrified in Mexico, one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. At least 128 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2006, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

During the news conference, López Obrador read aloud an email from Natalie Kitroeff, the Times’s bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, in which she requested comments for an article that revealed that officials charged with enforcing the Law in the United States had been looking for years into accusations that López Obrador’s allies met with drug cartels and took millions of dollars from them.

In addition to identifying Kitroeff by name, López Obrador recited his phone number.

“This amounts to doxxing, is illegal under Mexican privacy laws and puts journalists at risk,” Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said on X, the social media platform.

The National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data of Mexico (INAI) said in a statement that his investigation would seek to establish whether López Obrador had violated Mexican legislation that protects personal data. The institute administers Mexico’s freedom of information system, which was created more than two decades ago to make government operations more transparent and curb abuses of power.

López Obrador, whose six-year term comes to an end this year, has long maintained an adversarial relationship with the media and regularly attacks journalists by name at his morning news conferences.

The action against The Times journalist follows weeks of attacks on a ProPublica reporter, which came after the news organization published a story last month detailing an earlier investigation into allegations that drug cartels had donated million to López Obrador’s first presidential campaign, in 2006, which he lost. The president called reporter Tim Golden a “pawn” and “a mercenary in the service” of the DEA.

Separately, Thursday’s Times report revealed a more recent investigation during López Obrador’s presidency, which began in 2018, in which U.S. law enforcement officials examined claims that López Obrador’s confidants had received millions of dollars from drug cartels. The article cited US records and three people familiar with the matter.

“This is a troubling and unacceptable tactic by a world leader at a time when threats against journalists are on the rise,” the New York Times said in a statement Thursday in response to López Obrador’s press conference.

The United States never opened a formal investigation into López Obrador, and the officials involved ultimately shelved the investigation after concluding that the U.S. government had little interest in bringing charges against the leader of a key U.S. ally.

During their investigation, U.S. officials identified possible links between the cartels and López Obrador’s allies and advisers after he took office, but found no direct link between the president himself and the criminal groups.

By Sam