Pressed by the interviewer whether he had singled out any attendees in particular, he said no, according to an excerpt of the interview posted on Twitter early Thursday by the news division of the broadcaster, Televisa.
“No one in particular,” he replied. “No complaints or denunciations or lamenting or anything. We were discussing these issues in an open dialogue, very casual from what I remember and, well, there will be many witnesses to this meeting.”
The administration has come under intense pressure to explain a spying scandal that has alarmed the country. Some of Mexico’s most prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists, as well as international officials investigating crime in the country, have been targeted with sophisticated cyber technology purchased by the government on the condition that it be used only against criminals and terrorists.
The government has denied any involvement in the spying and has launched an investigation to determine who was responsible for the campaign.
One of the targets of the espionage was Mr. González’s son, Claudio González Jr., who currently runs an investigative news group that, among other work, has exposed contract rigging by Mr. Peña Nieto’s allies.
The spying against the younger Mr. González coincided with several instances of government aggression, including nine separate government audits of organizations that Mr. González Jr. has been involved with. The audits were launched on a single day. In a statement to The Times, Mr. González Jr. described the government’s treatment as a “siege.”
In the face of the president’s denials, Carlos Loret de Mola, one of Mexico’s best-known journalists, published a column on Thursday in which he said his own sources had reaffirmed the account in The Times.
Mr. Loret de Mola, who is known for his deep sourcing in the government, reported that the president had singled out Mr. González Sr. during the private meeting with business leaders in May.
Mr. Loret de Mola added that the president also criticized another leading anti-corruption activist who has received financial support from one of the other attendees.
According to Mr. Loret de Mola’s account, the attendees were asked to surrender their cellphones before entering the meeting room. The president then warned the business leaders that by financing the anti-corruption drive, they would be helping Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City and a leading opposition candidate in next year’s presidential election.
Mr. Loret de Mola added in a Twitter post: “Why does the president @EPN say that it did not happen when it did happen?”