The Guardian reports that Jeff Bezos was successfully hacked through WhatsApp by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018.
A digital forensic analysis found that it was “highly probable” that the infiltration of Bezos’ phone was caused by an infected video file that was received from bin Salman.
The encrypted message, sent on 1 May 2018, allegedly extracted large amounts of data from the Amazon boss’s device.
The Guardian said it had no knowledge of what was taken from the device and how it was used.
However, the Guardian speculates that the data hack may be linked to the leaking of lewd content involving Bezos by the National Enquirer.
After the National Enquirer published the content about Bezos’s relationship with former TV host Lauren Sanchez, Bezos hired investigators to determine if the story was politically motivated.
According to Bloomberg, these suspicions were premised on the fact that Bezos owns the Washington Post, which has written critical stories about US president Donald Trump.
Trump and David Pecker – who is in charge of the company that publishes the National Enquirer – are reportedly good friends.
Bezos said at the time that the Washington Post’s coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – a controversy in which bin Salman was heavily involved – could also have motivated the National Enquirer’s investigation into Bezos’ personal life.
“For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” said Bezos at the time.
Bezos also claimed the National Enquirer threatened to publish more details and revealing photos if he didn’t stop the investigation into the leak.
Saudi Arabia previously denied that it had targeted Bezos’s phone.