Saudis accessed Bezos' phone and gained private data, security chief says

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By Spencer Kimball, CNBC  with NBC News World News
Image: Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington
Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington DC's "Milestone Celebration Dinner" in Washington, U.S., Sep. 13, 2018.   -   Copyright  Joshua Roberts

Saudi Arabia accessed Jeff Bezos' phone and obtained private data belonging to the Amazon CEO, security specialist Gavin de Becker said in an article posted on The Daily Beast Saturday.

Bezos had tasked de Becker with investigating how The National Enquirer had obtained and published intimate texts that the Amazon CEO had sent to his mistress, TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

In a shocking post in February, Bezos alleged that National Enquirer publisher AMI blackmailed him by threatening to publish intimate photos if he did not publicly state that the tabloid's coverage of him was not politically motivated.

AMI has maintained that it acted lawfully in its reporting on Bezos. De Becker said his investigation had concluded "with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone and gained private information."


Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post, which has run critical coverage of the Trump administration and the Saudi government. In October, Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, sparking international outrage against Riyadh.

"Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi's murder," de Becker said.

De Becker went on to say that it is unclear if AMI was aware of the details, but pointed to what he called a close relationship between AMI chairman David Pecker and the Saudi government. Saudi Arabia has previously denied having anything to do with the National Enquirer's coverage of Bezos.

"This is something between the two parties, we have nothing to do with it," Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs, told CBS' "Face the Nation" in February.

De Becker said the results of his investigation have been turned over to federal officials. The Saudi embassy and AMI could not be immediately reached for comment.