In his first reaction to reports of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman hacking his phone, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thursday tweeted a picture commemorating journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bezos, it is believed, was victim to “intrusive surveillance” after his phone was compromised via a WhatsApp message sent to him by MBS.
The picture tweeted by Bezos, with the #Jamal, was taken in October 2019 when he visited Khashoggi’s memorial in Istanbul.
Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post, a media organisation owned by Bezos, and a critic of Saudi Arabia. He fled Saudi in 2017 and travelled to the US, where he wrote against his country as well as its Crown Prince. Two years later, in October 2019, Khashoggi was allegedly murdered at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, when he had gone to obtain documents to marry his Turkish fiancée.
It is believed that surveillance on Bezos’ phone was enabled in May 2018 — months before Khashoggi was killed — and extended for nine months until February 2019. The United Nations Wednesday said his phone may have been hacked to “influence, if not silence” the newspaper’s critical coverage of the kingdom. The UN also claimed NSO Group’s Pegasus-3 was most likely used in the hacking.
Further, Bezos had claimed in February 2019 that he was being blackmailed by David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc (AMI), which owns The National Enquirer. The tabloid had published intimate messages exchanged between Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos was being blackmailed after the Post exposed The National Enquirer’s connections with the Saudi regime.
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