A security consultant for Jeff Bezos has accused Saudi Arabia of accessing the Amazon chief executive’s phone and obtaining private information about the world’s richest man.
Gavin de Becker, Mr Bezos’s security chief, said in an article on the Daily Beast website that the Saudi government had launched a campaign against Mr Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, following the newspaper’s coverage of the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” Mr de Becker wrote.
He said he had turned evidence over to federal officials but did not describe that evidence or give further details of his claims.
Mr de Becker said he had reached his conclusion about Saudi involvement following an investigation into how the National Enquirer obtained leaked messages between Mr Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a woman with whom he was having a relationship.
In February, Mr Bezos accused the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc, of “extortion and blackmail”. He said the tabloid had threatened to publish intimate photos and text messages between him and Ms Sanchez unless he called off Mr de Becker’s investigation and issued a statement saying AMI’s coverage was not politically motivated.
Mr de Becker, in his article on Saturday, said AMI had demanded that he publicly state “that my investigation had concluded they hadn’t relied upon ‘any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their newsgathering process.’” He claimed the publisher had also asked him to say that the story was not “instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.”
However, he said it was “unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details” of the Saudi government’s alleged accessing of Mr Bezos’s phone.
Mr de Becker claimed the Saudi government “has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October”, due to the Post’s “relentless coverage” of the death of Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington, AMI and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.