- UN investigators have called for an “immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities” into Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s alleged role in hacking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone.
- The call for an investigation follows a report from the UN that indicates Mohammed sent Bezos a malicious file via WhatsApp in order to steal private information from his phone.
- The crown prince already faces UN scrutiny for reportedly ordering the killing of a dissident and orchestrating online misinformation campaigns to quash dissent.
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UN experts called for a full-fledged investigation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday, citing a report that indicates the crown prince’s involvement in hacking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal phone.
The report, published in full Wednesday morning, indicates that Crown Prince Mohammed sent Bezos a series of seemingly friendly messages on WhatsApp before sending a malicious file that, when opened, began stealing private information from Bezos’ phone.
According to the UN experts who wrote the report, the crown prince was likely targeting Bezos because he owns The Washington Post, which ran stories critical of the Saudi government, including those by Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident and columnist who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi operatives.
“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,” UN experts Agnes Callamard and David Kaye said in the statement, calling for a full investigation of Mohammed.
Callamard and Kaye called for an “immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities, including investigation of the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents.”
In a tweet on Wednesday, the Saudi government called the UN report’s allegations “absurd” and called for “an investigation on these claims.”
—Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) January 22, 2020
The UN report exposes a years-long campaign orchestrated by the Saudi government to quash dissent and foment online outrage against perceived critics of the kingdom. Bezos was a frequent target of online attacks by Mohammed’s surrogates for his ownership of The Post.
“The alleged hacking of Mr. Bezos’s phone, and those of others, demands immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities, including investigation of the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents,” the UN experts said in the statement.