The Guardian published an extraordinary report Tuesday that details how Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman personally hacked the phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2018.
The hacking reportedly took place when a personal account of the crown prince sent a message to Bezos that included a malicious video file during a “seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange.” The Guardian cited sources and a digital forensic analysis.
Remember this image? Jeff Bezos & Saudi crown prince MBS laughing together in 2018. Well, apparently, it was followed by a friendly Whatsapp exchange between the 2 men. Now it turns out, reports the Guardian, MBS used that Whatsapp exchange to hack Bezos's phone! Wow. Just wow. pic.twitter.com/CAI45ifaPI
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) January 21, 2020
The report raises questions about how The National Enquirer obtained text messages sent between Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez that were published year. A private investigator hired by Bezos asserted in March 2019 that the Saudi government hacked into Bezos’ phone.
The Daily Beast previously reported that the Saudis were targeting Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. In October 2018, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Here’s what the Saudi Embassy in Washington D.C. tweeted after the Guardian’s story published:
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.
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) January 22, 2020
Update, 9 p.m. PT: The Washington Post reported that the United Nations will release its own investigation Wednesday confirming that Bezos’ phone was hacked. The Post noted a new documentary film titled “The Dissident,” which debuts Friday, that also confirms the malicious video file Mohammed sent to Bezos.