Saudi Prince Accused of hacking Jeff Bezos

The Kingdom has hit back at "absurd" allegations but a UN report is said to back the Amazon CEO

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia hacked the phone of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos with a malicious WhatsApp message, according to reports. 

Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have sent an infected video file to Bezos, which was used to infiltrate the phone of the world's richest man, sources have told The Guardian. 

The two men had a correspondence over WhatsApp in May 2018 and the Saudi prince is said to have sent an infected message and exfiltrated large amounts of data. These claims were denied by the Saudi government's US embassy, which called for a counter investigation on Twitter. 

"Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd," it wrote. "We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out."

However, United Nations officials will release a public statement on Wednesday that agrees with an investigation commissioned by Bezos, according to Reuters sources

In January 2019, AMI-owned US tabloid The National Enquirer published a special edition claiming to have intimate details of an extra-marital affair between Bezos and American news anchor Lauren Sanchez, citing private text messages as a source. Originally, Sanchez's brother Michael was thought to be the source but a private investigator hired for Bezos suggested the leak came from further afield – Saudi Arabia. 

Gavin de Becker, a former CIA and FBI agent, explained his own findings in an article for the Daily Beast. "Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information," he confirmed. "As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details," he said

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De Becker didn't reveal exactly who was responsible or how they hacked the phone, but he passed his findings on to the federal authorities. Since he made the claim, however, a number of reports have surfaced about the Saudi Arabia allegedly using WhatsApp for hacking. 

A number of critics of the Kingdom have claimed to have been targeted with malware sent via the Facebook-owned messenger service, such as Ghanem Almasarir, a Londoner who is thought to be living under police protection in the UK.

Bin Salman, is also heavily linked to the murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. The publication is owned by Nash Holdings, a company established by Bezos.

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