UN says Saudis may be behind hacking of Bezos' phone

ASSOCIATED PRESS
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates
Published 22.01.2020 17:36
Updated 22.01.2020 17:47
This Nov. 9, 2016, photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman R posing with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. AFP Photo/Saudi Royal Palace/Bandar al-Jaloud
This Nov. 9, 2016, photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) posing with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (AFP Photo/Saudi Royal Palace/Bandar al-Jaloud)

United Nations experts Wednesday called for an "immediate investigation" by the United States and others into information they received that suggests that Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked after receiving a file sent from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's WhatsApp account.

Bezos owns The Washington Post and is the founder of Amazon.

At a time when Saudi Arabia was supposedly investigating the killing of Saudi critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and prosecuting those it deemed responsible, "it was clandestinely waging a massive online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post," the experts said in their statement.

The U.N. experts reviewed a 2019 digital forensic analysis of Bezos' iPhone, which they said was made available to them as U.N. Special Rapporteurs.

The experts said that records showed that within hours of receipt of a video from the crown prince’s WhatsApp account, there was “an anomalous and extreme change in phone behavior” with enormous amounts of data from the phone being transmitted over the following months.

The Financial Times has seen the forensic report that was done by FTI Consulting, a private firm hired by Bezos. The newspaper said the forensic report "does not claim to have conclusive evidence," and “could not ascertain what alleged spyware was used.”

The forensic report assessed with “medium to high confidence” that his phone was infiltrated on May 1, 2018 via an MP4 video file sent from a WhatsApp account used personally by the Saudi crown prince.

Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October that same year.

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