Amazon boss Jeff Bezos's phone 'hacked by Saudi crown prince'

Amazon CEO Bezos discusses his company's new Fire smartphone in Seattle Washington Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's phone 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 on Tuesday. An analysis of Bezos' phone reportedly revealed that following a seemingly friendly conversation between the two men, the video file sent by the crown prince corrupted Bezos' phone and made large amounts of data vulnerable, eventually leading to embarrassing leaks.

The alleged exchange took place in May, several months before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident who wrote articles frequently criticising Saudi Arabia in the Washington Post, the USA newspaper owned by Mr Bezos.

For one, it will make that much harder for the USA government to skirt the question of whether Mohammad bin Salman was directly responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018. And just months after that, text messages and images Bezos sent to his mistress, former television anchor Lauren Sanchez, were published by the National Enquirer.

In March 2019, following the public airing of Bezos's extramarital affair, Amazon head of security Gavin de Becker wrote in a piece published by the Daily Beast that "our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information".

De Becker noted that David Pecker, the AMI executive behind the Enquirer, and the crown prince have a friendly relationship.

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Inc. chief Jeff Bezos's phone was reportedly hacked. It is understood that it is considered credible enough for investigators to be considering a formal approach to Saudi Arabia to ask for an explanation.

Before his death, Khashoggi had been critical of the Saudi Arabian government in his columns for The Post.

The timing of The Guardian article, nine months after De Becker initially fingered Saudi Arabia, could be related to the fact that there is a United Nations investigation into the hacking which the paper itself notes "is considered credible enough for investigators to be considering a formal approach to Saudi Arabia to ask for an explanation".

"He probably believed that if he got something on Bezos it could shape coverage of Saudi Arabia in the Post".

Both Saudi Arabia and AMI have denied that the kingdom was involved in the publication of the Bezos story. It did not immediately return a request for comment.

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