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USA | UN Calls for Immediate Investigation into Alleged Saudi Hack of Amazon Boss Jeff Bezos


UN experts called for an immediate investigation by the US into evidence indicating that Jeff Bezos, the billionaire owner of the Washington Post, was hacked with spyware deployed in a WhatsApp message sent from the personal account of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

The special rapporteurs, Agnès Callamard and David Kaye, said in a joint statement they were “gravely concerned” by evidence they had reviewed about the apparent surveillance of Bezos in what they described as a possible “effort to influence, if not silence, the Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia”.

The statement was released after the Guardian revealed on Tuesday that Bezos, who is chief executive of Amazon and the world’s richest man, appeared to have had his mobile phone “hacked” in 2018 after receiving a message apparently sent from the personal WhatsApp account of Prince Mohammed.

In one of the most extraordinary disclosures, the UN rapporteurs said that, according to forensic analysis, the “crown prince sent WhatsApp messages” to Bezos, in November 2018 and February 2019, “in which he allegedly revealed private and confidential information about Mr Bezos’ personal life that was not available from public sources”.

An annexe to their report provided further details of an alleged incident in November 2018 when a single photograph was texted to Bezos from the crown prince’s WhatsApp account “along with a sardonic caption”. The image, according to the UN rapporteurs, was of “a woman resembling the woman with whom Bezos is having an affair, months before the Bezos affair was known publicly”.

Two months later, in January 2019, the National Enquirer published a special edition that exposed the affair. AMI, which owns the US supermarket tabloid, has denied any “third party” was involved in influencing its reporting.

The special rapporteurs Agnès Callamard said the revelation that the future king of Saudi Arabia might have had a personal involvement in the targeting of the billionaire owner of the Washington Post should put a renewed spotlight on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.