News is surfacing today that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had his smartphone pwned by hackers working for the Saudi Crown Prince. Said hackers then pulled a ton of data off of it. And this was done because of the coverage that the Washington Post, which Bezos owns, has done on the Saudis. None of which was flattering given that one of the reporters was killed by Saudi agents recently. Here are the details via the Washington Post:
United Nations human rights investigators have concluded that an account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent an infected video to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, triggering a massive extraction of data from the billionaire’s cell phone.
The report by human rights investigators Agnes Callamard and David Kaye says the forensic evidence found in Bezos’s phone “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.”
In a report released Wednesday, Callamard and Kaye called for the United States and other nations to investigate the alleged hacking of Bezos’s phone as part of a larger look at what they called “the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents.”
The UN officials’ report was based on a forensic investigation of Bezos’s phone commissioned by the Amazon founder, who also owns The Washington Post. Callamard and Kaye said the crown prince’s involvement in the alleged hack was part of “a pattern of targeted surveillance of perceived opponents” by Saudi authorities and was “relevant to… ongoing evaluation of claims about the Crown Prince’s involvement in the 2018 murder of Saudi and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
The 2018 hack of Bezos’s phone took place five months before Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who was under contract with The Post’s editorial department to write opinion columns, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Five Saudi nationals were sentenced to death last month in connection with the Khashoggi killing after a secret trial in Saudi Arabia.
It isn’t mentioned if Bezos is on Team Android or on Team iPhone, but this whole episode does illustrate the risks of attachments that you receive. In any case, the Saudi’s deny this, which I would expect any nation state accused of hacking to do. But unfortunately for the Saudis this isn’t going to go away as the UN is calling for an investigation and one suspects that more details will come out about this hack that they will not like.