International media reports say that exclusive: investigation suggests Washington Post owner was targeted five months before murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Citing its source, The Guardian says the Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos had his mobile phone “hacked” in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message that had apparently been sent from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis.

This analysis found it “highly probable” that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post.

The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on May 1 of that year, the unsolicited file was sent, according to sources who spoke to The Guardian on the condition of anonymity.

Large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos’s phone within hours, according to a person familiar with the matter.  The Guardian has no knowledge of what was taken from the phone or how it was used.

The extraordinary revelation that the future king of Saudi Arabia may have had a personal involvement in the targeting of the American founder of Amazon will send shockwaves from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

The disclosure is likely to raise difficult questions for the kingdom about the circumstances around how US tabloid the National Enquirer came to publish intimate details about Bezos’s private life – including text messages – nine months later.

Digital forensic experts started examining Bezos’s phone following the publication last January by the National Enquirer of intimate details about his private life.

Saudi Arabia has previously denied it targeted Bezos’s phone, and has insisted the murder of Khashoggi was the result of a “rogue operation”.  In December, a Saudi court convicted eight people of involvement in the murder after a secret trial that was criticized as a sham by human rights experts.

Meanwhile, the United Nations urges probe into reported hacking of Amazon CEO’s phone by Saudi Arabia. 

According to a report commissioned by the Amazon CEO and reviewed by United Nations human rights experts, a WhatsApp message sent by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Jeff Bezos was behind a high-profile hack of Amazon chief’s phone.  

The UN experts -- Agnes Callamard and David Kaye --  said they were “gravely concerned” and called for an "immediate investigation by US and other relevant authorities, including investigation of the continuous, multi-year, direct and personal involvement of the Crown Prince in efforts to target perceived opponents."

Kaye told NPR that they raised their concerns with the Saudi government in a letter sent last week through the Saudi permanent mission to the U.N. in Geneva,.

"We sent them a letter that says, this is the information we received. If it's true, it raises very serious concerns regarding very grave human rights violations. And we have some questions for you," he said.

He said they have not received a formal response.