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Jeff Bezos' Phone Hacking Allegedly By Saudi Hackers Needs To Be Investigated, Says The UN

Jeff Bezos' Phone Hacking Allegedly By Saudi Hackers Needs To Be Investigated, Says The UN
Reports of the alleged use of a WhatsApp account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for delivering a malware to the mobile phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has made experts at the United Nations (UN) "gravely concerned".
"The information we have received 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," the UN experts said in a statement Wednesday.
Agnes Callamard, who is the special rapporteur of the UN and who specialized in extrajudicial killings had released the statement. Callamard had also investigated the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The report was also published by a UN special rapporteur, David Kaye, who works in the field of freedom of expression.
The need for an investigation in the allegations was called for by the UN.
This move by the UN comes after a number of reports that claimed that a probe by a forensics team hired by Bezos had revealed the incident of hacking of the phone of the CEO and the source of the hack was an account controlled by bin Salman. Reports had also previously said that the conclusions reached by the forensics team of Bezos had arrived at conclusions with "medium to high" confidence.
The allegations against its Crown Prince were denied by Saudi Arabia. "Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd," the Saudi embassy in Washington wrote on Twitter. "We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out," the embassy added.
The UN experts had "recently became aware" of a forensic analysis of Bezos' phone which had found that the breach of the phone had been conducted on May 1, 2018 with the use of a video file sent from a WhatsApp account that is personally used by bin Salman, the UN experts said.
Within hours of the video being sent to Bezos’ phone,  a "massive" amount of information was exported from it, said the assessment seen issued by the UN experts. This transfer of data continued for some months and, according to the experts' summary of the report, the hackers stole more than 6 gigabytes of data.
"The forensic analysis assessed that the intrusion likely was undertaken through the use of a prominent spyware product identified in other Saudi surveillance cases," the UN experts said in their statement.
According to reports, direct physical access to Bezos' phone was not available to the UN investigators but extensive study of the research done by FTI Consulting was done by them. FTI Consulting is the independent cyber security experts who were hired by Bezos.
No comments on the issue were available from FTI Consulting.
Bezos had suggested earlier that the breach of his phone was a part of a tactic employed by the US tabloid National Enquirer to gather data and information about the private texts exchanged between the CEO and a woman named Lauren Sanchez when the two were in an extramarital relationship.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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