Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos phone hacked: UN experts want investigation
UN experts called for an investigation into the alleged hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone on Wednesday via a WhatsApp message from an account of the Saudi Crown Prince. Ryad called these allegations “absurd”.
This intrusion into the device of the founder of Amazon, committed in 2018, led to the publication of intimate images of Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post who employed as columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist murdered the same year at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
In a press release, Agnès Callamard, Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, and David Kaye, Rapporteur on freedom of expression, said they had information on the “possible involvement” of the Saudi prince Mohammed ben Salmane in the “surveillance” of Mr. Bezos.
The alleged hacking of his phone “requires an immediate investigation by the US authorities and other competent authorities,” added these experts, who are mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council but do not speak on behalf of the UN.
They request that the investigation relate in particular to “the direct and personal involvement of the crown prince in the efforts to target the alleged opponents”.
Calling the allegations “absurd,” the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington also called for an investigation “to shed light on these facts.”
The two UN experts had access to the conclusions of the technical analysis of Mr. Bezos’ iPhone. Carried out in 2019, it revealed that the businessman could have been hacked on May 1, 2018 via an MP4 video file sent from an account used by the Saudi crown prince.
According to the findings of this analysis, the Crown Prince and the boss of Amazon had exchanged their phone numbers the month before the digital intrusion.
A few hours after receiving the video file, a large amount of data was extracted from Mr. Bezos’ phone, according to the experts, who indicate that this data extraction continued undetected for several months.
The analysis also showed that hackers appear to have used a type of spyware used in other Saudi surveillance cases, such as the NSO group’s Pegasus-3 malware.
Mr. Bezos had hired Gavin from Becker & amp; Associates to find out how private messages and photographs had reached the National Enquirer. The revelation by this tabloid newspaper of information on an affair of the boss of Amazon had led to his divorce.
In March, de Becker had already implicated the Saudi authorities. But he did not specifically identify the person responsible for the hacking in the Saudi government, or give details of what had allowed him to reach this conclusion.
For UN Rapporteurs, the case “reinforces reports of a targeted surveillance program of those perceived to be opponents and of those of strategic importance” in the eyes of Ryad.
They also called for a thorough investigation into “allegations that the crown prince had ordered, encouraged or, at least, had knowledge of the preparations” for the operation to kill Jamal Khashoggi.
In December a Saudi court exonerated the entourage of Mohammed bin Salman from all responsibility for the murder of Khashoggi, a verdict widely decried as a travesty of justice in the world, with the exception of Washington.
The CIA and the United Nations special envoy Agnes Callamard directly linked Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder, which the kingdom vehemently denies.