Saudi FM: Allegation that Crown Prince Hacked Amazon CEO Bezos’ Phone ‘Absurd’
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said in an interview Wednesday that allegations that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tried to hack Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’ phone were “absurd” and “absolutely silly.” Cybersecurity experts from the FTI Consulting firm hired by Bezos said that his phone was probably infiltrated in 2018 by spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO when Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man, clicked on a video file sent via the WhatsApp application from an account belonging to the Saudi crown prince. The device reportedly began leaking large amounts of data about a month afterward. This was a few months before the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for The Washington Post, which Bezos owns. Two UN officials said on Wednesday said that FTI Consulting’s analysis seemed credible. The crown prince said last year that Khashoggi was killed by rogue operatives, who were later convicted in a Saudi court, and that he was not involved. Bezos charged last year that Saudi Arabia had leaked to the National Enquirer tabloid phone messages between himself and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, whom he was dating. Bezos also accused the Enquirer’s owner of trying to blackmail him by threatening to publish “intimate photos” he allegedly sent to Sanchez.