Amazon boss Jeff Bezos ‘hacked after WhatsApp message from Saudi crown prince’

Vincent Wood
Jeff Bezos (left) and Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammad bin Salman: AP/Getty

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s​ mobile phone was hacked after receiving a WhatsApp message sent from a number belonging to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, it has been claimed.

The world’s richest man is thought to have been having a conversation with the prince when the businessman was reportedly sent a video that contained a malicious file designed to infiltrate his device, according to the Guardian.

The allegations follow the leaking of Mr Bezos’s private information to US gossip magazine the National Enquirer, as well as the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper which is owned by the billionaire.

It was claimed “large amounts of data” were acquired from Mr Bezos’s phone within a matter of hours, according to the investigation into the hacking which was reportedly carried out on the businessman’s behalf.

In February 2019, Mr Bezos accused the National Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail” after the tabloid published texts between the billionaire and his girlfriend, former Fox TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

He claimed the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc (AMI), demanded he announce that its reporting of his private life was not politically motivated, or else it would publish a number of salacious photos, including a “below-the-belt selfie”.

Mr Bezos went on to reference media reports about alleged links between AMI and Saudi Arabia, and alluded to the kingdom’s displeasure at the Washington Post’s coverage of the murder of Khashoggi.

However at the time Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom had “absolutely nothing to do” with the affair, adding: “This is something between the two parties, we have nothing to do with it,”

Meanwhile the kingdom has long maintained the killing of Khashoggi was carried out by “rogue” actors – despite Agnes Callamard, the UN rapporteur investigating the killing, saying the state had been responsible.

Ms Callamard is reported to have been handed information related to Mr Bezos’s investigation of the hack on his phone.

The National Enquirer denies any wrongdoing in its reporting on Mr Bezos.

Saudi Arabia's US embassy dismissed the report.

"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," it said in a message posted on Twitter.

Read more

Bezos trip turns into PR nightmare as Amazon promises ‘1m Indian jobs’