Message from Saudi crown prince linked to hack of Bezos's phone: report

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosThe new American center Kickstarter union seen as breakthrough for tech activism Hillicon Valley: Officials worry about Nevada caucus technology after Iowa | Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei | Workers at Kickstarter vote to unionize | Bezos launches B climate initiative MORE had his smart phone hacked in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message from Saudi Arabia's crown prince, sources told The Guardian.

An analysis conducted by forensic investigators concluded that it was “highly probable” that inside the encrypted message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was a malicious file that proceeded to siphon large amounts of data from Bezos's phone, according to the report from The Guardian published Tuesday.

Sources did not detail any specifics about the information taken with The Guardian.

ADVERTISEMENT

The message was reportedly sent to Bezos after he and the crown prince had a cordial conversation on the messaging app on May 1, 2018. 

Nine months after the supposed hack, the National Enquirer published intimate details about Bezos's private life, including an extramarital affair.

The tabloid has claimed it received the information from the estranged brother of Bezos's girlfriend, but the billionaire's private team of investigators has "high confidence" that the Saudis hacked the information from Bezos's phone, The Guardian reported.

Saudi Arabia and American Media Inc. — the then-owner of the National Enquirer — have both denied that the kingdom was involved in the publishing of the story.

The Hill reached out to Amazon for comment. 

One of Bezos' lawyers told the Guardian: “I have no comment on this except to say that Mr. Bezos is cooperating with investigations.”

Allegations of a Saudi tie to the hack of Bezos' phone will also raise more questions about the actions of the crown prince ahead of the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Bezos is the owner of the Post.

Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur who investigates extrajudicial killings, investigated Khashoggi's murder and found “credible evidence” that the crown prince other senior Saudi officials were responsible for the killing.