Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday that a media report that the Kingdom is behind the hacking of Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos’ phone was “absurd”.
Bezos’ phone was hacked in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message that had been sent from the personal account of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, The Guardian had reported on Tuesday, citing sources.
The encrypted message from the number used by the crown prince is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone Bezos had used and extracted large amounts of data within hours, the report said. The newspaper, while quoting “Saudi experts”, which include dissidents, said that the alleged hack may be a result of Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post, which published articles written by slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which were critical of the Kingdom.
The relationship between the Amazon chief executive and the Saudi government had soured since early last year after he alluded to Saudi Arabia’s displeasure at The Washington Post’s coverage of the murder of Khashoggi.
The Guardian further said that the findings of a forensic analysis of Bezos’ phone have also been seen by United Nations special rapporteur Agnès Callamard, who has found enough evidence to approach Saudi Arabia for an explanation over the matter. Callamard had also investigated Khashoggi’s murder and had found “credible evidence” to implicate the Saudi crown prince and other members of the Kingdom’s administration.
Bezos’ security chief said at the time that Saudi had access to his phone and gained private information from it involving text messages between him and a former television anchor, who the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper said Bezos was dating.
Saudi Arabia however maintained it had nothing to do with the leaked media reports or the alleged hacking of Bezos’ phone.
“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’s United States embassy said in a message posted on Twitter.
Amazon declined to comment.