Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ‘Hacked’ Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos’s Phone: Report 

Swarajya Staff

Jan 22, 2020, 08:40 AM | Updated 08:40 AM IST

Pic Courtesy: Saudi Press Agency
Pic Courtesy: Saudi Press Agency

The phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was hacked by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018, five months before the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the Guardian reported.

Forensic sleuths deployed by Bezos reached a conclusion with “medium to high confidence” that a WhatsApp account used by Mohammed bin Salman was directly involved in a 2018 hack of the Amazon founder’s phone.

Bezos and Mohammed bin Salman were engaged in a friendly chat on Whatsapp when Mohammed bin Salman is said to have sent the Amazon CEO a video file. That file was likely infected with malware, and in a matter of hours large amounts of data were extracted from Bezos’s phone.

The stunning revelation that the future king of Saudi Arabia may have been directly involved in the targeting of the billionaire businessman is likely to send tremors across Wall Street to Silicon Valley. The Saudi ruler has embarked on an effort to transform Saudi Arabia by attracting huge foreign capital and reduce dependence on oil revenues.

Earlier last year, allegation emerged that the brutal killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was carried out under the direct orders of Mohammed bin Salman

Khashoggi was a former editor of Reuters and a regular commentator with the Washington Post, a publication owned by Jeff Bezos. Khashoggi, who was once regarded an insider with close ties to many members of the Saudi ruling royal clan, later turned a trenchant critic. He fled his home country fearing vindictive action from the ruling royalty and was living in exile in USA. His recent columns have been critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies.

If latest revelations that Bezos phone was hacked turns out to be true, it is likely to pose troubling questions on how National Enquirer tabloid received text messages between Bezos and his mistress in early 2019, including photos of the two in various revealing states.

Early last year, Bezos had accused the owner of The National Enquirer of blackmailing him into halting his investigation into their publication of private text messages he exchanged with his mistress.

Bezos had also attributed political motives as reason for AMI’s sleazy reportage. He pointed out its publisher’s close ties with President Donald Trump, as well as its links to the government of Saudi Arabia.

Soon after Bezos announced his divorce from novelist MacKenzie Bezos in early January, the National Enquirer outed his extramarital affair with married television anchor Lauren Sanchez in a report that included the couples’ private text messages.

It was then reported that Bezos had hired private investigator to look into how those messages were obtained. Gavin de Becker, a longtime private security consultant, was commissioned by Bezos to investigate whether Sanchez’s brother, revealed to be a supporter of Trump, may have orchestrated the leak for political reasons.

In December lasy year, Amazon filed against the US government's decision to award $10 billion Pentagon Cloud project to the "less competitive" Microsoft alleging that Trump abused his position to put "improper pressure" on decision-makers for personal gains and show his hatred towards Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who owns The Washington Post.

"President Trump's animosity toward Mr Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post is well known, and it originates at least in part from his dissatisfaction with the Washington Post's coverage of him from before he assumed office," Amazon claimed in its filing.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.