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Parents of 43 missing students march holding images of their sons during a protest march in Mexico City, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The march was held on the second anniversary of the disappearance, on Sept. 26, 2014, of the students from the Rural Normal School at Ayotzinapa. The government’s initial investigation decided the students were killed and incinerated in a fire. But international experts have cast doubt on this theory and the families have not accepted it. (Photo: AP/Eduardo Verdugo)

A team of international investigators brought to Mexico to unravel one of the nation’s gravest human rights atrocities was targeted with sophisticated surveillance technology sold to the Mexican government to spy on criminals and terrorists.

The spying took place during what the investigators call a broad campaign of harassment and interference that prevented them from solving the haunting case of 43 students who disappeared after clashing with the police nearly three years ago.

Appointed by an international commission that polices human rights in the Americas, the investigators say they were quickly met with stonewalling by the Mexican government, a refusal to turn over documents or grant vital interviews, and even a retaliatory criminal investigation.

Now, forensic evidence shows that the international investigators were being targeted by advanced surveillance technology as well.

The main contact person for the group of investigators received text messages laced with spyware known as Pegasus, a cyberweapon that the government of Mexico spent tens of millions of dollars to acquire, according to an independent analysis.

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