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UN Experts Want Immediate Probe of Alleged Bezos Hack

Sources say Saudi crown prince sent him infected WhatsApp file
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2020 2:17 AM CST
Updated Jan 22, 2020 11:22 AM CST
Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, left, and Hatice Cengiz, right, the fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi, applaud a speaker during a ceremony near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul,...   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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(Newser) – The world's richest man had his phone hacked during what he thought was a friendly chat with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, insiders say, and now UN experts are calling for an "immediate investigation" of the allegations by "the US and other relevant authorities." Sources tell the Guardian that investigators have determined that large amounts of data were extracted from the Amazon chief's phone after he received an infected video file from Mohammed bin Salman during a WhatsApp exchange in May 2018. The kingdom's US Embassy characterized the allegations as "absurd" in a tweet, but Agnes Callamard, a UN expert investigating the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye said MBS' "possible involvement" demanded an investigation, reports the BBC.

The New York Times' sources say investigators believe the Saudis used the prince's phone to hack him because they believed messages from MBS wouldn't arouse suspicions. The two had exchanged numbers a month prior to the alleged May 1 hack. A statement from Callamard and Kaye states that the info they've gotten suggests "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." Gavin de Becker, the Amazon chief's head of security, said last year that his investigation—launched after racy texts from Bezos to Lauren Sanchez ended up in the National Enquirer—had determined that the Saudis had accessed Bezos' phone. The AP reports that the results of that investigation were shared with the UN experts. (Read more Jeff Bezos stories.)

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