Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report CEO Jeff Bezos was the victim of a malware attack on his phone that originated from a message sent from the personal WhatsApp account of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a report in The Guardian.
The intrusion allowed Saudis to extract “large amounts of data” from the device within hours, according to the Guardian’s sources. These revelations were found after the phone went through a digital forensic analysis.
The Saudi crown prince, also known by his initials MBS, reportedly sent a video file from his WhatsApp account to Bezos during a friendly conversation between the two. Once Bezos opened the file, his phone was prone for information extraction. His phone was compromised for months, according to reports.
Saudi Arabia officially denied the allegations made in the report.
U.N. officials have viewed an official report from FTI Consulting, the business advisory group that performed the forensic test on the phone, and they are expected to publicly announce some of the findings from the report as soon as Wednesday.
Bezos landed in hot water in 2019 after U.S. tabloid The National Enquirer reached out to the Amazon CEO asking him to comment on a story about Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, with whom he was having an extramarital affair. Instead of commenting on the story, Bezos went public and admitted to his infidelity and released a tweet announcing that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, would be separating.
The Enquirer then published a series of intimate texts to Sanchez that reportedly came from Bezos’ phone, leading the Amazon founder to suspect that his phone had been compromised.
It is not clear, however, that the alleged Saudi scheme and this incident are related, though Bezos in an open letter last year addressing his marriage scandal referenced the Saudi government multiple times.
“Here’s a piece of context: My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy,” Bezos wrote last year.
Saudi Arabia is widely believed to be behind the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a dissident that had been highly critical of MBS.