Saudi prince could have been concerned in Bezos cellphone hacking: U.N. consultants

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SAN FRANCISCO/CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could have been concerned in a plot to hack the cellphone of Amazon’s billionaire boss Jeff Bezos, United Nations consultants stated on Wednesday.

The U.N. particular rapporteurs, Agnes Callamard and David Kaye, stated they’d info pointing to the “doable involvement” of the prince within the alleged 2018 cyberattack. Saudi officers have dismissed the allegations as absurd.

Cybersecurity consultants employed by Bezos, the world’s richest man, concluded his cellphone was in all probability infiltrated by a video file despatched from a WhatsApp account purportedly belonging to Prince Mohammed in 2018, in response to an individual conversant in the matter.

They stated the machine started leaking huge quantities of knowledge a few month afterwards, the supply stated.

Callamard, the particular rapporteur for extra-judicial killings, and Kaye, particular rapporteur free of charge expression, stated the allegation of Saudi involvement “calls for instant investigation by U.S. and different related authorities”.

Saudi International Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud dismissed the allegations on Wednesday.

“I feel ‘absurd’ is strictly the precise phrase,” he informed Reuters in an interview in Davos. “The concept the crown prince would hack Jeff Bezos’ cellphone is completely foolish.”

The allegations might nonetheless additional injury relations between tech tycoon Bezos and Riyadh, and threat harming the dominion’s repute with overseas powers and traders.

The alleged cyberattack is claimed to have taken place months earlier than the 2018 homicide of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a fierce critic of the Saudi authorities and a columnist for the Bezos-owned Washington Publish.

Prince Mohammed, or MbS, stated final yr that the killing was carried out by rogue operatives and that he didn’t order it.

FILE PHOTO: Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and Jeff Bezos, founding father of Amazon and Blue Origin, speak as they attend a ceremony marking the primary anniversary of Khashoggi’s killing on the Saudi Consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Picture

NATIONAL ENQUIRER

In one other earlier flashpoint, Bezos’ safety chief stated final yr that the Saudi authorities had gained entry to the Amazon CEO’s cellphone and leaked messages to U.S. tabloid the Nationwide Enquirer between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor who the newspaper stated he was relationship.

A month earlier than, Bezos had accused the newspaper’s proprietor of attempting to blackmail him with the specter of publishing “intimate images” he allegedly despatched to Sanchez.

The Saudi authorities has denied having something to do with the Nationwide Enquirer reporting.

The Guardian first reported the crown prince’s alleged involvement in a cellphone hacking plot on Bezos.

Saudi Arabia’s U.S. embassy additionally dismissed the allegations.

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“We name for an investigation on these claims in order that we are able to have all of the info out,” it stated in a message posted on Twitter.

Amazon (AMZN.O) declined to remark.

Extra reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco, Kevin Krolicki in Davos and Raphael Satter in Washington; Writing by Pravin Char; Enhancing by Mike Collett-White

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