Sometime in late 2018, the world was swarmed with the news of the death of a Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi who, at that time, was working for the Jeff Bezos’s owned the Washington Post. Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey where he had visited to secure key documents for himself and his then to-be wife. His death was publicized highly, and was backed up by CCTV footage that showed how the killers traveled from Saudi Arabia to the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
A new investigative report by The Guardian has highlighted developments that preceded the assassination, and mainly suggests, with considerable certainty, that Saudi Arabia’s Prince MBS may have sent the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos a suspicious WhatsApp file that was then used to harvest a substantial amount of private and critical information. The exploit is reported to have happened five months before Khashoggi was killed.
Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) January 22, 2020
Bezos’s phone was subject to a forensic analysis when personal exchanges between him and his then mistress were published online. This, obviously, led to the world’s most expensive divorce case from his wife. However, the billionaire was not going to let the matter rest for obvious reasons. The outcome, according to what has since been passed anonymously to the Guardian is that the unsolicited file sent to his WhatsApp from the crown prince of Saudi Arabia caused the fracas that saw Bezos divorced and a good chunk of his wealth passed over to his ex-wife in a settlement.
Back to Jamal Khashoggi. The journalist, who was living in the USA then was a prominent critic of MBS. This did not augur well with the prince, who, as investigations have revealed, may have ordered the writer’s assassination. Hacking Jeff’s phone was reportedly a plan to cushion the kingdom from backlash from the press, mainly the Washington Post.
MBS has traveled extensively, and one of his favourite spots is the USA. He has been scouting for investors to place their shops in the kingdom – but reports say that this reveal could hurt those efforts.
Statement from the UN
In their announcement, UN experts, Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions and extrajudicial killings, and David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression said:
“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 allegations reinforce other reporting pointing to a pattern of targeted surveillance of perceived opponents and those of broader strategic importance to the Saudi authorities, including nationals and non-nationals. These allegations are relevant as well to ongoing evaluation of claims about the Crown Prince’s involvement in the 2018 murder of Saudi and Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.”