An investigative team representing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos continues to push forward with evidence-free, debunked claims that Saudi Arabia is responsible for hacking into the Washington Post owner’s phone and disseminating information to the National Enquirer, which exposed the extramarital affairs of Mr. Bezos.
In an article for the Daily Beast over the weekend, Gavin de Becker, a security consultant hired by Bezos, claimed he has definitive proof that Saudi Arabia hacked into Bezos’ phone.
“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” de Becker writes, adding that he turned over the information to “federal officials.”
— CNN Business (@CNNBusiness) April 1, 2019
Jeff Bezos' security chief Gavin de Becker said his investigation had concluded “with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone and gained private information.” https://t.co/pXaIUXrzdZ pic.twitter.com/DNOBZleBXR
— CNBC (@CNBC) April 1, 2019
— The Hill (@thehill) April 1, 2019
Additionally, the sourcing for the allegations is extremely vague. Mr. de Becker cites “Middle East experts” and “cybersecurity experts” but only one person by name: Iyad el-Baghdadi, who is an anti-Saudi Arabia activist with no known expertise in cybersecurity. This weekend, el-Baghdadi appeared on the Al Jazeera media network, which is controlled by Saudi Arabia’s rival Qatar, to disseminate what he described as the “Bezos Blackmail Scandal.”
Saudi Arabia is nowhere close to a top-tier cyber warfare country, so Mr. Becker’s accusation that Riyadh somehow managed to infiltrate the personal information of the leader of a major cybersecurity firm (Amazon Web Services) should generate some immense scrutiny.
Following the publication of the de Becker piece, AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, which published the bombshell story on Bezos’ extramarital affair, confirmed that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos’ mistress, was the publication’s lone source.
“The fact of the matter is, it was Michael Sanchez who tipped the National Enquirer off to the affair on Sept. 10, 2018, and over the course of four months provided all of the materials for our investigation,” a spokesperson for the company said. The publication also directly refuted “the false and unsubstantiated claims of Mr. de Becker.” It had been reported earlier that Mr. Sanchez was paid $200,000 in exchange for the information on Bezos.
Mr. Bezos initially advanced the idea of unwelcome Saudi involvement in his personal affairs in a February 7 post on the Medium website. As proof for his suspicions, he cited the Washington Post’s “unrelenting” coverage of the death of Jamal Khashoggi, an Islamist activist and Washington Post contributor who was killed inside a Saudi diplomatic compound in October 2018. Mr. Bezos somehow concluded, without evidence, that this is what motivated the Saudi government to attempt to extort him. Bezos also floated the idea that President Trump, given his personal relationship with the National Enquirer’s David Pecker, may have had something to do with the text scandal.
In two separate pieces for Conservative Review, published in February and March, I studied the latest allegations coming from Team Bezos surrounding Saudi hacking and found that they were entirely unsubstantiated. Yet Team Bezos continues to trot out explosive, but evidence-free, accusations involving Trump-Saudi-AMI collusion. And much of the media continues to report on the unfolding saga, blindly trusting the Bezos narrative without raising any questions about how his security team came to its conclusions.