U.N. experts have demanded an immediate investigation by U.S. and other authorities into allegations that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was involved in a plot to hack the phone of Amazon boss and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.
The U.N. special rapporteurs, Agnes Callamard and David Kaye, said on Wednesday they had information pointing to the “possible involvement” of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the alleged 2018 cyberattack, which preceded alleged threats by the National Enquirer to publish intimate photographs of the billionaire tech tycoon.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Callamard, the special rapporteur for extra-judicial killings, and Kaye, special rapporteur for free expression, said in a statement that they believed the hack was carried out “in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia” and called for an “immediate investigation by U.S. and other relevant authorities.”
Their recommendation is not binding, and how quickly – if at all – U.S. officials might act on it was not immediately clear.
The Wall Street Journal said an FBI investigation into the hack was ongoing.
Saudi officials dismissed the allegations as absurd.
The rapporteurs based their call for an investigation on a 17-page forensic report drawn up by Washington-based FTI Consulting, which a source familiar with the matter said had been commissioned by Bezos. The report alleges with “medium to high confidence” that the billionaire’s iPhone X was hijacked by a malicious video file sent from a WhatsApp account used by the crown prince on May 1, 2018.
The report, a copy of which was first published by Motherboard, said that within hours of receiving the video file there was “an anomalous and extreme change” in the device’s behavior, with the level of outgoing data from the phone jumping nearly 300-fold.