The British Guardian newspaper revealed that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the hacking of the phone, Jeff Bezos, the founder of the Amazon website and the owner of the Washington Post, through a message he sent to him through the WhatsApp application, but Riyadh was quick to deny.
The British newspaper – quoting sources familiar with the results of a United Nations criminal investigation, to be published today, Wednesday, related to the case – said that the message sent by the Saudi crown prince to the American billionaire contained a malicious file that penetrated the phone of the American billionaire.
The analysis concluded that it is “very likely” that the phone was hacked by video file that bin Salman sent to Bezos.
The Guardian indicated that bin Salman’s letter was sent on May 1, 2018, five months before the killing of his journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The newspaper stressed – quoting a source familiar with the analysis – that large amounts of data were withdrawn from the Bezos phone, without revealing its nature.
For his part, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told Reuters, “I think the word is absurd, is an accurate description.”
The minister stated that the Kingdom will investigate the matter if evidence is presented to support these accusations
The Saudi embassy in Washington also denied reports of the crown prince’s responsibility for the breach, and demanded in a tweet on her Twitter account that an investigation be made into these allegations “so that the facts become clear.”
In the first international response, a statement issued by the United Nations was signed by Anis Kalamar, the UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary executions and the head of the independent investigation into the killing of Khashoggi, and David Kay, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.
The statement said they had information indicating the “possibility of” the Saudi Crown Prince’s involvement in the penetration of Bezos’ phone to influence the Washington Post regarding its coverage of news related to Saudi Arabia.
The statement added that these accusations “require the immediate investigation of the United States and other relevant authorities.”
The UN officials also considered that the timing of the Bezos phone piracy supports an investigation into allegations that Bin Salman ordered or instigated the murder of Khashoggi.
|The sources who spoke to the newspaper said that Bezos and Bin Salman were apparently exchanging friendly WhatsApp messages (Getty Images)|
According to the results of the digital forensic laboratory analysis, it is believed that the coded message from the number used by Bin Salman included a harmful file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man.
This analysis concluded that it is “very likely” that the infiltration of the phone was caused by a hacked video file sent from the Saudi Crown Prince’s account to Bezos.
According to sources who spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity, the two apparently exchanged friendly WhatsApp messages when he sent the unwanted file on May 1 of that year. According to a person familiar with the matter, large amounts of data were withdrawn from the Bezos phone within hours.
The newspaper pointed out that this exceptional revelation that the “future” King of Saudi Arabia may have had a personal role in targeting the founder of the American company Amazon will send shock waves that resonate from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, and it could also undermine Bin Salman’s efforts to attract more Western investors to The kingdom, which he pledged to transform economically, even as he oversaw the campaign of his critics and rivals.
Blackmail and target
He told the newspaper Saudi experts, opponents and analysts, that they believed Bezos might have been targeted because of his possession of the Washington Post, its coverage of Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi’s articles critical of the crown prince and his repressive campaign against activists and thinkers that had become troublesome for Bin Salman and his inner circle.
Andrew Miller, a Middle East expert who served on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said that if Bezos had been targeted by the crown prince, this would reflect the “personality-based environment” in which Mohammed bin Salman works.
The newspaper said that digital security experts took over the investigation that reached these results, after the American tabloid “National Enquirer” revealed an intimate relationship with Bezos, after about nine months from the date his phone was hacked.
Bezos had said that he had been subjected to extortion, adding that his newspaper’s coverage of the Khashoggi killing was “undoubtedly unpopular in some circles”, pointing out that the relationship between American Media, the owner of the National Inquirer, and Riyadh is still not fully understood.