- The invasion that occurred two years ago led to the accessing of private and confidential information directly touching on the Amazon's president's private sex life.
- The newspaper published information about an extramarital relationship by the owner of Amazon, causing the end of the businessman's marriage to Mackenzie Bezos.
- Riyadh has nonetheless distanced itself from the said allegations, calling them "absurd."
UN experts on Wednesday called for an investigation into the hacking and subsequent theft of private and confidential information from the cell phone of Amazon founder and president, Jeff Bezos. The phone was reportedly hacked after he received a WhatsApp video message from an account linked to Saudi crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman.
The invasion that occurred two years ago led to the accessing of private and confidential information directly touching on the Amazon’s president’s private sex life. Bezos also owns the Washington Post newspaper which is well known for it’s criticism of the Saudi administration. It is the very newspaper for which Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist critical of the Saudi government, used to write. Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated on October 2, 2018 at the consulate of his country in Istanbul, Turkey.
In a statement, Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, and David Kaye, UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, considered that “the alleged hacking of Mr. Bezos’s phone, and those of others, demands immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities, including investigation of the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents.”
“The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia. The allegations reinforce other reporting pointing to a pattern of targeted surveillance of perceived opponents and those of broader strategic importance to the Saudi authorities, including nationals and non-nationals.”
Riyadh has nonetheless distanced itself from the said allegations. Classifying the accusations as “absurd,” the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington also called for an investigation “to shed all possible light on these facts.” The conclusions of the technical analysis of the Bezos iPhone, carried out in 2019, revealed that the device could have been hacked on May 1, 2018 through an MP4 video file sent from an account used by the Saudi Crown Prince.
According to the conclusions of the analysis, the Crown Prince and the owner of Amazon had exchanged phone numbers in the month before the invasion. A few hours after receiving the video file, a lot of data was extracted from Bezos’s phone, according to experts, who pointed out that this leak of information continued imperceptibly for several months. The analysis also revealed that hackers used a type of spyware (automatic intruder program) used in other cases of Saudi invasion, such as the NSO group’s Pegasus-3 malware.
Bezos hired Gavin de Becker, founder and chairman of Gavin de Becker and Associates, to try to find out how his private messages and photographs arrived at the National Enquirer. The newspaper published information about an extramarital relationship by the owner of Amazon, causing the end of the businessman’s marriage to Mackenzie Bezos. In March, the company had already presented evidence against the Saudi authorities, but without identifying the person responsible within the Riyadh government or providing details of how it had reached the conclusion.