Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ private investigator claimed Saturday night that Saudi Arabia obtained his billionaire client’s text messages and private information.
Saudi Arabia used its extensive technological tools to obtain a trove of embarrassing Bezos text messages, security consultant Gavin de Becker said in a Daily Beast editorial. The longtime Bezos confidant said he based his conclusion on interviews with Middle East experts, tech experts and people who have been on the receiving end of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) ire.
“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” Becker wrote, adding: “As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”
He is referring to American Media (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer, which reported in January about an affair Bezos allegedly had with Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos announced he and his wife MacKenzie were divorcing two days after AMI approached him about the texts.
Media reports have since showed Lauren’s brother, Michael Sanchez, allegedly sold the billionaire’s secrets for $200,000 to AMI. Michael denied sending the National Enquirer “the many penis selfies” but declined to comment about whether he sent the publication other photos of Bezos, according to a March 19 Wall Street Journal report. Becker claimed in the Saturday op-ed that Sanchez was not alone.
“Michael Sanchez has since confirmed to Page Six that when the Enquirer contacted him back in July, they had already ‘seen text exchanges‘ between the couple,” Becker wrote, linking to a Page Six article in which Michael claims that the National Enquirer already had private information on Bezos before they contacted him for information.
Becker named one source in his Saturday piece: Iyad el-Baghdadi, a human rights activist who has written about Saudi Arabia in the past for the Daily Beast. Critics almost immediately jumped on Twitter to pan Becker’s editorial as a type of public relations work masquerading as journalism.
“They’re alleging a hacking — and then rather than give the opinion of forensic specialists (the only people who’d be in the position to know what happened), they ask people if they think MBS is really mean, and he totally would be a guy who’d hack,” David Reboi, a writer and consultant on national security issues, wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread Saturday.
Bezos, a media tycoon who purchased The Washington Post in 2013, suggested in a February blog post that his outlet’s coverage of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as a potential reason for why Saudi Arabia would target him. Subsequent reports have also noted AMI once asked Saudi Arabia to invest in the company to stave off bankruptcy. Becker mentioned the outlet’s extensive connections with MBS as a reason for his conclusion.
“We studied the well-documented and close relationship between MBS and AMI chairman, David Pecker,” he wrote. “That alliance includes David Pecker bringing MBS intermediary Kacy Grine to a private White House meeting with President Trump and Jared Kushner.”
Becker linked to a New York Times March 2018 piece essentially tying President Donald Trump to Pecker and MBS.
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