Reports Jeff Bezos’ Phone Hacked By Saudi Crown Prince
Reports have emerged today that Amazon billionaire, Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked by the Saudi crown prince, just five months before the murder of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
The Guardian reports that the Amazon boss had his phone ‘hacked’ in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message reportedly sent from the personal account belonging to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is said to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the Amazon billionaire, according to digital forensic analysis results.
The analysis revealed it was ‘highly probable’ that the intrusion into Bezos’ phone, owner of the Washington Post, was triggered by an infected video file sent directly from the account of Saudi heir.
Bezos and Mohammad bin Salman had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp conversation when on the 1 May 2018, the ‘unsolicited file’ was sent, the publication reports.
The publication received the information from sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Within hours, large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos’ phone but there is no public knowledge of what files were stolen or how it was used.
The astonishing leak that the future king of Saudi Arabia potentially had personal involvement in the extraction of files from the founder of Amazon is set to send shockwaves across the US – from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
It could also have negative impacts on the crown prices’ efforts to lure more western investors to Saudi Arabia, where he has vowed to transform the kingdom economically.
It may also create additional scrutiny on the crown prince and his inner circle in relation to their movements prior to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi – the Washington Post journalist who was killed in October that same year, five months after the alleged cyberattack on the newspaper’s owner.
But the kingdom has previously denied any involvement in targeting of Bezos’ phone and has instead insisted the killing of Khashoggi was a ‘rogue operation.’
In December last year, a Saudi court convicted eight people of involvement in the murder following a secret trial that was later criticised by human rights experts.
The Guardian also reports they understand Bezos’ phone has been reviewed by Agnès Callamard – the UN special rapporteur who investigates extrajudicial killings.
It’s understood the hack is considered credible enough for investigators to be considering a formal approach to Saudi Arabia to provide explanation.
Callamard told the publication that she followed all UN protocols that require investigators to alert governments about impending public allegations.
Experts also told the publication they believed Bezos was targeted because of his ownership of the Washington Post that regularly posted critical columns about Mohammad bin Salman and his repression against activists and intellectuals, written by Khashoggi.
The Saudi embassy in Washington has not provided a response to the allegations.