- It looks likely that Saudi Arabian officials hacked Jeff Bezos’ personal phone, but their reason for doing so is unclear.
- The timing of the ordeal doesn’t quite line up with current theories.
- Donald Trump is a common thread that links Bezos, Prince Salman and the National Enquirer.
Everyone wants to know how Amazon owner Jeff Bezos got hacked. Not only because it’s surprising to learn that the tech big-wig’s phone wasn’t adequately protected against cybercrime, but because it matters in today’s political landscape.
A forensic analysis of Jeff Bezos’ cell phone pointed to a WhatsApp video as the source of the hacking attack. The video was sent to Bezos by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Embassy Denies that Saudi Arabia Hacked Bezos
Following reports of the hacking source, the Saudi Arabian embassy issued a statement on Twitter calling the accusations absurd. After all, why would Saudi officials want Jeff Bezos’ personal information?
There are a few potential answers to that— the first and most prominent being to hold it over his head in the wake of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death. Khashoggi’s murder was called into question by WaPo, and the ordeal soured Bezos’ relationship with Salman, but was it the reason for Bezos’ phone hack?
Perhaps, but the timing is questionable. The video in question was sent to Jeff Bezos on May 1 while the two men were having a friendly conversation. Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul five months later.
Was it Blackmail?
Some say the fact that the Saudi price was monitoring Bezos’ device shows how far-reaching the nation’s cyber surveillance efforts have become. Others claim Salman sent the infected video in hopes of getting some dirt on Bezos if the Washington Post’s coverage of Saudi Arabia was unpopular.
Proponents of this theory point to the private text messages published by the National Enquirer nine months later as proof. But while the Saudis are almost certainly responsible for infecting Bezos’ phone, the “why” has become increasingly important.
Timing Doesn’t Add Up
If the Saudi prince was hoping to blackmail Bezos or change the way the Washington Post was reporting, does it make sense to publish damaging personal information posing as someone else? The National Enquirer claims the personal exchanges between Jeff Bezos and girlfriend Lauren Sanchez came from her disgruntled brother.
But her brother tells another story. While he admitted to working with the National Enquirer, Michael Sanchez says he didn’t provide the publication with the texts and photographs in question.
Enter Donald Trump
Admittedly, there is no concrete evidence linking President Trump to the Jeff Bezos hacking— but he is a common thread linking each of the participants. Trump close to the National Enquirer’s then-owner, David Pecker. The two have been accused of working together to skew media coverage in Trump’s favor in the past.
Plus, there’s Donald Trump’s chummy relationship with Said officials— a fact that has been vehemently criticized in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder. New concerns that the Saudi prince may have been spying on the White House via Jared Kushner’s phone reveal the president “forced [Salman’s] security clearance through.”
Finally, there’s his ongoing conflict with the Washington Post and its owner. Trump’s beef with Bezos was rumored to have disrupted a potential deal between Amazon and the Department of Defense. If you subscribe to that theory, is it such a stretch to imagine Trump asking the Saudi Prince to dig up dirt on Bezos?
Abuse of Power
With Trump currently on trial for abusing his power for his own personal gain, the fact that he has been feuding with Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post for years can’t be overlooked. Saudi Arabia’s bold Twitter post calling for an investigation into claims that Prince Salman is behind the hacking attack are telling. Whether the White House is willing to delve into the matter further is likely dependent on the president’s involvement.
Moving forward, keep an eye on Trump’s response and Washington’s willingness to investigate the Saudi’s cyber-surveillance. While there isn’t any evidence linking Donald Trump to the ordeal right now, I’d say there’s a good chance there will be if the investigation goes further.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 4:49 PM UTC