Probe launched over Mexican president disclosing phone number of NYT journalist

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador presents constitutional reforms, in Mexico City
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's freedom of information body INAI said on Thursday it was initiating an investigation after the country's president disclosed the phone number of a New York Times journalist looking into alleged ties between his allies and drug cartels.

The disclosure took place during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's daily news conference.

"During said event, the president made reference to an investigation by the aforementioned international newspaper and read, in front of everyone, the correspondent's telephone number," according to an INAI statement.

The New York Times criticized Lopez Obrador's move on social media.

"This is a troubling and unacceptable tactic from a world leader at a time when threats against journalists are on the rise," the media outlet wrote in a post on X.

After the incident, the New York Times published its investigation revealing that U.S. law enforcement officials spent years looking into allegations that allies of Lopez Obrador met with and took millions of dollars from drug cartels after he took office in 2018.

Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists outside active war zones as reporters investigate its criminal gangs and wide-spread corruption. International free-speech organization Article 19 has documented 163 journalist murders in Mexico since 2000.

In January, the theft of the personal data of hundreds of journalists in Mexico, including addresses and copies of voter ID cards and passports, raised fresh safety concerns in one of the most dangerous countries for media professionals.

(Reporting by Raul Cortes Fernandez, Ana Isabel Martinez and Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Alire Garcia)