Saudi Arabia hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone and stole private information, according to Gavin De Becker, a private investigator working for Bezos.
De Becker said the cyberattack is linked to Bezos’ connection to the Washington Post, where columnist Jamal Khashoggi worked, according to the Guardian. Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey in the Saudi consulate, in what the CIA found was an attack likely orchestrated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder,” De Becker said.
De Becker’s investigation began with leaked texts linking to a romance between Bezos and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez in January. The messages were published at the time by the National Enquirer, whose owner, David Pecker, allegedly tried to blackmail Bezos.
In a blog post on Medium, Bezos wrote that the National Enquirer owner claimed to have “more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.”
“After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia,” Bezos wrote. “At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions…”
De Becker claims American Media Inc (AMI), the parent company, tried to put an end to the investigation and requested evidence of “electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process” be discarded.
“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” De Becker said. “As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”
AMI denied allegations.
“Despite the false and unsubstantiated claims of Mr De Becker, American Media has, and continues to, refute the unsubstantiated claims that the materials for our report were acquired with the help of anyone other than the single source who first brought them to us … there was no involvement by any other third party whatsoever.”
All the information was released to law enforcement for further investigation.
Saudi Arabia has not commented on the accusations.