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Inquiry into Bezos 'd**k pic' blackmail alleges phone was hacked by Riyadh

Inquiry into Bezos 'd**k pic' blackmail alleges phone was hacked by Riyadh
An investigation commissioned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos into how his intimate photos were leaked to the National Enquirer has now alleged with "high confidence" that his phone was hacked by the Saudis who harvested the data.

In an extensive piece published by the Daily Beast on Saturday, Gavin De Becker, a security expert who led the inquiry, wrote that his findings about the Saudi's hand in the blackmailing scandal drew on a variety of sources.

De Becker said that he and his team, who were encouraged by Bezos to "spend whatever is needed" to dig up the truth, have talked to an array of former employees of the Enquirer's parent company, AMI, intelligence and security experts specializing in Saudi spyware, as well as current and former advisers to the Trump administration, Saudi dissidents, and those who personally knew the oil-rich kingdom's all-powerful strongman, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The results of the investigation, De Becker wrote, allowed him to conclude "with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information."

It is unclear how exactly Riyadh allegedly managed to breach Bezos' personal communications. De Becker said his team handed over all the data to federal investigators and therefore will not disclose any details. However, he mentioned a report by the New York Times that claims Saudi intelligence operatives found a way to hack phones without leaving any digital trace. De Becker noted that it is not clear whether AMI was in bed with the Saudis.

"As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details," he said.

The security expert said that the demands AMI made towards him and Bezos only confirmed his suspicions that the source for the Enquirer's story on Bezos's private texting and the source of the intimate pics he shared with his lover Lauren Sanchez is not her brother, Michael Sanchez, or not only him.

De Becker alleged that Sanchez, who was previously named as the only source behind the bombshell-in-the-making, was a pawn in a big political game to silence the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos.

One of the demands for him was to say that his investigation concluded that the tabloid had not resorted to "any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process."

The second one was for De Becker to say that it was not "instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise."

De Becker claimed that the Gulf kingdom has been plotting revenge against Bezos since the scandal over the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.

"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," he said. Last month, Bezos went public about an attempt by the Enquirer to blackmail him into stopping the Post's critical coverage of the magazine's alleged "Saudi angle."

He posted letters he received from AMI, describing in salacious details the pics they had acquired, including the "below the belt selfie," and how they would publish them unless Bezos publicly states that the Post has "no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces."

Riyadh at the time rejected the allegations that they were behind the scheme.

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