Saudi Arabia 'hacked Amazon boss's phone', says investigator

Saudi Arabia 'hacked Amazon boss's phone', says investigator

Saudi Arabia 'hacked Amazon boss's phone', says investigator

Renowned celebrity private investigator Gavin De Becker "concluded with high confidence" that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had access to the cell phone of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.

In an extensive piece published by the Daily Beast on Saturday, Gavin De Becker, a security expert who led the inquiry, wrote that his findings about the Saudi's hand in the blackmailing scandal drew on a variety of sources.

However, Gavin de Becker did not clarify how he had reached the conclusion that Saudi Arabia was behind the hacking of Bezos' phone.

In February, Bezos accused the National Enquirer's owner of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing "intimate photos" he allegedly sent to Sanchez unless he said in public that the tabloid's reporting on him was not politically motivated. The unusual set of circumstances began in January, when Bezos announced that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, were divorcing.

Gavin de Becker linked the hack to extensive coverage by The Washington Post newspaper, which is owned by Bezos, of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul past year.

Amazon did not immediately have a comment about Bezos.

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Meanwhile, Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez who has been accused of sending private messages to the Enquirer, did an interview with The New York Post that also published on Saturday. He said AMI, which has had ties to the Saudis, was "apoplectic" about The Post's reporting on the Saudis. In February, the kingdom's minister of state for foreign affairs said Saudi Arabia had "absolutely nothing to do" with the National Enquirer's reporting on the affair.

Bezos added that he had asked de Becker, his longtime security consultant, to investigate who had leaked information and photos about him.

"As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details", de Becker wrote. The actual news in the Journal article was that its reporters were able to confirm a claim Michael Sanchez had been making: It was the Enquirer who first contacted Michael Sanchez about the affair, not the other way around.

De Becker said that he and his team, who were encouraged by Bezos to "spend whatever is needed" to dig up the truth, have talked to an array of former employees of the Enquirer's parent company, AMI, intelligence and security experts specializing in Saudi spyware, as well as current and former advisers to the Trump administration, Saudi dissidents, and those who personally knew the oil-rich kingdom's all-powerful strongman, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He did not say whether the Saudis provided any of Bezos' personal information from the phone to AMI. But he stopped short of saying what methods he believed the Saudis may have used to access Bezos' personal information.

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