Two U.N. officials have published a statement saying they have information that suggests Saudi Arabia was behind a hack of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' personal cell phone in an effort to "influence, if not silence" critical reporting of the Saudi regime by The Washington Post.
In a public statement published Wednesday morning, Agnes Callamard, U.N. Special Rapporteur on summary executions and extrajudicial killings, and David Kaye, U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, wrote there was a "reasonable belief" their allegations have merit.
"The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post's reporting on Saudi Arabia," the statement said.
"At a time when Saudi Arabia was supposedly investigating the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and prosecuting those it deemed responsible, it was clandestinely waging a massive online campaign against Mr. Bezos and Amazon targeting him principally as the owner of The Washington Post."
Bezos' phone was reportedly hacked after the Amazon founder exchanged numbers with the Crown Prince at a dinner in Los Angeles in 2018. Bezos received a WhatsApp message that was apparently sent from the personal account of the Crown Prince that contained a file able to infiltrate Bezos' phone. A digital forensic analysis of Bezos found the intrusion was triggered by an infected video file sent by the prince to Bezos.
The Guardian reports that large amounts of data was exfiltrated from the Amazon founder's personal cell phone within hours, according to a digital forensic examination of the device.
The statement called for an immediate investigation by the U.S. and other authorities into whether the Crown Prince was linked to the hacking of Bezos' phone and into the Crown Prince's alleged involvement in the killing of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a U.S. permanent resident and Washington Post contributor, was a vocal critic of his native country's crown prince.
"The circumstances and timing of the hacking and surveillance of Bezos also strengthen support for further investigation by U.S. and other relevant authorities of the allegations that the Crown Prince ordered, incited, or, at a minimum, was aware of planning for but failed to stop the mission that fatally targeted Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul," the joint statement added.
Saudi Arabia dismissed the allegations they had anything to do with hacking Bezos' phone,
The joint statement also points to the timeline of events as the Washington Post, which Bezos owns, published a series of columns by Khashoggi that were critical of the Saudi regime in the months leading up to the hack.
Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered on Oct. 2, 2018 after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Five people in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to death for Khashoggi's murder.
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