After a recent cybersecurity review, Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos alleged this week that Saudi Arabia hacked his phone in 2018.
Private business firm FTI Consulting conducted a forensic analysis of Bezos’ phone and discovered with “medium to high confidence” that the phone was transmitting data soon after receiving a video file on May 1, 2018, from a WhatsApp account personally used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Wall Street Journal reported.
United Nations experts then reviewed the forensic analysis and confirmed “an anomalous and extreme change in phone behavior” including significant amounts of data being transferred just hours after receiving the video, the Associated Press reported.
The U.N. experts have called for an “immediate investigation”
The experts added that Saudi Arabia was “clandestinely waging a massive online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post,” following the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was also known as a Saudi critic.
Bezos previously alleged in 2019 that the Saudi government, along with National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., were involved in a blackmail scheme which involved threats to release photos to support allegations that Bezos had an extramarital affair.
A security consultant Bezos hired in 2019 had also determined “with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’s phone, and gained private information,” but did not link Prince Mohammed at the time.
Saudi Arabia has denied the recent allegations, with the Saudi Embassy in the U.S. saying via Twitter on Tuesday night, “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.”
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