Saudi crown prince hacked Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’s phone: Report
Gavin de Becker, a security consultant for Bezos, later said he believed the Saudi Arabian government had accessed Bezos’s phone before the Enquirer exposed his affair in 2018.Updated: Jan 22, 2020 06:43 IST
Jeff Bezos’s mobile phone was hacked after receiving a message from the Saudi Arabian crown prince, the Guardian newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
A digital forensic analysis suggested the theft of data from the Amazon.com Inc. chief’s phone in 2018 started with an infected video file sent via WhatsApp from the personal account of Mohammed bin Salman, the newspaper reported.
The Guardian said it didn’t know what data was extracted from the phone, but the report comes about a year after the surprise announcement that Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, would divorce after 25 years of marriage. The National Enquirer subsequently disclosed an extramarital affair between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor, in a series of reports that relied, in part, on intimate text messages sent by Bezos.
Bezos subsequently published an extraordinary blog post accusing the tabloid of threatening to publish more embarrassing text messages and photos unless he publicly affirmed that there was no political motivation or outside force behind the tabloid’s coverage.
Gavin de Becker, a security consultant for Bezos, later said he believed the Saudi Arabian government had accessed Bezos’s phone before the Enquirer exposed the affair. He didn’t provide any direct evidence to back up his claims, which he said came from “our investigators and several experts.” De Becker cited the Enquirer’s business relationship with the Saudis, as well as tough coverage of the murder of a critic of the Saudi regime by the Bezos-owned Washington Post, as reasons why bin Salman might seek to harm the Amazon founder. The newspaper reported last year that the Central Intelligence Agency linked the crown prince to the 2018 murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
De Becker declined to comment on the Guardian report Tuesday beyond the lengthy statement last year, which was posted on the news site The Daily Beast. The Saudi embassy didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
It’s unclear whether the alleged hack of Bezos’s phone accessed any sensitive Amazon corporate information. The company hasn’t commented on the matter in the nine months since de Becker’s accusation. Company representatives didn’t return messages seeking comment on Tuesday.