Bezos reportedly had had a friendly text exchange with bin Salman, after which Salman sent a video file – believed to be malicious – that compromised Bezos’ phone when opened.
“Large amounts of data” were extracted from Bezos’ phone in a matter of hours, according to the report, but it’s unclear what information was compromised.
The report suggests that Saudi officials may have gained private information about Bezos before The National Enquirer published a story about his extramarital relationship in January 2019.
The Saudi Arabian government called the report “absurd.” Bezos’ lawyer declined to comment.
Bezos’ head of security, Gavin de Becker, said in March that an internal investigation revealed Saudis “had access to Bezos’ phone and gained private information.” David Pecker, the CEO of AMI, reportedly had a close relationship with bin Salman in the months leading up to The National Enquirer’s story.
Saudi Arabia and AMI have both previously denied that Saudi officials were involved in the publication of the story on Bezos.
According to the Guardian, Bezos could have been a target for the Saudi hack because he owns The Washington Post, which has run coverage critical of the kingdom. Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in October 2018. The CIA determined that bin Salman ordered the killing.