Jeff Bezos’s phone ‘hacked by Saudi crown prince’
Revelation expected to send shockwaves through the US
Jeff Bezos had his mobile phone hacked in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message that had been sent from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, according to a report.
The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is thought to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the Amazon billionaire. According to sources, large amounts of data were extracted from Bezos’s phone within hours.
The Guardian says the “extraordinary revelation” that the future king of Saudi Arabia may have had personal involvement in the targeting of the American founder of Amazon will “send shockwaves from Wall Street to Silicon Valley”.
The news could also undermine bin Salman’s efforts to lure western investment to the kingdom and thickens the plot on how the National Enquirer came to publish intimate details about Bezos’s private life – including text messages – nine months after the alleged hack.
The US tabloid’s story included the bombshell revelation of his involvement in an extramarital affair.
Both Saudi Arabia and the owners of the National Enquirer deny that the kingdom was connected to the publication of the Bezos story. A Saudi official told the Financial Times: “Saudi Arabia does not conduct illicit activities of this nature, nor does it condone them.”
But Andrew Miller, a Middle East expert who served on the national security council under President Obama, said: “It is clear that the Saudis have no real boundaries or limits in terms of what they are prepared to do in order to protect and advance Mohammed bin Salman.”
A lawyer for Bezos said: “I have no comment on this except to say that Mr Bezos is cooperating with investigations.”
The Saudi Arabia embassy in Washington has tweeted: “Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.”
Last year, Bezos’s security chief said Saudi Arabia had targeted the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, following the death of one of its columnists, Jamal Khashoggi, at its consulate in Istanbul.
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