Jeff Bezos' Phone Hacked By Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Bin Salman? All You Need To Know

US News

Jeff Bezos had his phone "hacked" in 2018 through a WhatsApp message that was purportedly sent by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia--Mohammed bin Salman, himself

Written By Aishwaria Sonavane | Mumbai | Updated On:
Jeff Bezos

The richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos had his phone "hacked" in 2018 through a WhatsApp message that was purportedly sent by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia--Mohammed bin Salman, himself. The Guardian reported that an encrypted message from the personal number of the de facto ruler of the Kingdom was sent to the owner of Amazon and Washington Post, Jeff Bezos on May 1, 2018. Forensic analysts then articulated that the unsolicited file contained malware, which extracted a copious amount of data from his phone, just within hours. “Within hours of the encrypted downloader being received, a massive and unauthorized exfiltration of data from Bezos’s phone began, continuing and escalating for months thereafter,” the report states.

The divulgence is likely to mount complex questions for the Kingdom to face the world community over two instances in particular--first, how did the US tabloid National Enquirer acquire and publish intimate details of Jeff Bezos's extramarital affair in March last year, that allegedly led to the most high-profile divorce last year and secondly the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Khashoggi was assassinated five months after Bezos's phone-hack. Upon the news break, Saudi Arabia explicitly denied any role in the phone intrusion.

Similarly, after flipping narratives for over a year, the Kingdom had declared that Khashoggi, a strong dissident of Mohammed bin Salman was killed in a "rogue operation." Meanwhile, the US tabloid National Enquirer has asserted that it had recieved a tip-off about Jeff Bezos' affair. However, nudging a twist in the tale, in September 2017, The New York Times had published that the Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince had met with David Pecker, the owner of the National Enquirer in the Kingdom. Two months after, Pecker had a private dinner at the White House with US President Donald Trump and others. Since the hack, the UN has called for an immediate probe by the US over the spyware deployment in the billionaire's phone and the subsequent fingers pointing towards Mohammed bin Salman. 

READ| Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is getting divorced, leaving his wife a stake worth over 35 billion dollars

The phone-hack and the Saudi heir's connection

Here are the series of events that unfolded in this entire story: 

  • Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos's phone was allegedly hacked by Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman, recognized as MbS in the Western world. 
  • The hack, apparently came from MbS' personal WhatsApp account, a few days after the two exchanged numbers at a dinner in April 2018.
  • As per reports by a Middle Eastern journalist ─░yad el-Baghdadi, Saudi Arabia had access to Jeff Bezos's phone from May 2018 to February 2019. 
  • It is reported that the phone-hack was not pertaining to Amazon, but the Washington Post over its persistent, intricate coverage against Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman over the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. 
  • Jeff Bezos's iPhone was allegedly hacked through Pegasus, a contentious cyberweapon made by an Israeli company, NSO. The same technology was used to hack Jamal Khashoggi, months prior to his cold-blooded assassination. The Saudis had reportedly bought Pegasus for state-run hacking purposes. 
  • The Saudis apparently obtained Pegasus in November 2017, prior to Mohammed bin Salman turning Ritz Carlton into a gilded prison for the elite members of the Royal family and was reportedly facilitated by Jared Kushner. 
  • Jeff Bezos had reportedly frozen all communications with Mohammed bin Salman subsequent to Khashoggi's murder and even stalled a $1 billion deal with Saudi Arabia. Even as the US President disregarded the case, the CIA had concluded Saudi Arabia Crown Princes' role in the murder. 

READ| Trump's son-in-law allowed Saudi Crown Prince MBS to arrest Khashoggi 

The team of Amazon's owner began privately probing his phone last January, after the exposure of his extramarital affair by the National Enquirer. Bezos had even accused American Media, the parent company of The National Enquirer of blackmailing and threatening him to release his nude photographs. 

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, and since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, former co-founder Brian Acton has insisted people to delete Facebook over privacy concerns. Now, speculations have been raised over the vulnerability of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's advisor and son-in-law, who is known to frequently communicate with the Crown Prince on WhatsApp. 

However, the Trump administration, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman personally, has not given a statement over the issue. Meanwhile, Riyadh has blatantly shunned the allegations. Calling the reports "absurd" Saudi Embassy in Washington said, "We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out." 

READ| Saudi Crown Prince says 'Jamal Khashoggi was murdered under my watch'

READ| "I know how to cut well," Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quoted a murderer of Jamal Khashoggi

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