FILE PHOTO: Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.’s “Milestone Celebration Dinner” in Washington, USA, September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Photo File
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief of security for Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said on Saturday that the Saudi government had access to Bezos’ phone and got private information from it.
Gavin De Becker, an old security consultant, said he came to the conclusion his research into the publication in January of leaked text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor who, the tabloid National Enquirer said Bezos was dating.
Last month, Bezos accused the newspaper’s owner tries to blackmail him with the threat of publishing “intimate photos,” he allegedly sent to Sanchez, unless he has said in public that the tabloid’s reporting on him was not politically motivated.
In an article for The website the Daily Beast, The Becker said the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., had privately demanded that The Becker deny finding any evidence of an “electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news gathering process.”
“Our researchers and various experts, concluded with a high degree of certainty that the saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and was given private information,” Becker wrote. “On the day of today it is unclear to what extent, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”
A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington not immediately return a request for comment. In February, the kingdom of the minister of state for foreign affairs said Saudi Arabia had “absolutely nothing to do” with the National Enquirer is reporting about the affair.
A representative for AMI not immediately respond to a request for comment. AMI has previously said that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the Bezos story.
Becker said he is about the findings of his research to the U.S. federal officials, without elaboration.
Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Mary Milliken and Rosalba O’brien