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Saudi dismisses reports it is behind hacking of Amazon boss Bezos’ phone

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FILE PHOTO – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin speaks during the JFK Space Summit, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Katherine Taylor

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday that a media report that the Kingdom is behind the hacking of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos’ phone was “absurd.”

The billionaire’s phone was hacked in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message that had been sent from the personal account of Saudi’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Guardian reported on Tuesday, citing sources.

The encrypted message from the number used by the crown prince is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone Bezos had used and extracted large amounts of data within hours, the report said.

“Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd. We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out,” Saudi’s U.S. embassy said in a message posted on Twitter.

Amazon declined to comment.

The relationship between the Amazon chief executive and the Saudi government had soured since early last year after he alluded to Saudi Arabia’s displeasure at the Bezos’ owned Washington Post’s coverage of the murder of its columnist and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Bezos’ security chief said at the time that Saudi had access to his phone and gained private information from it involving text messages between him and a former television anchor, who the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper said Bezos was dating.

Saudi had said it had nothing to do with the reporting.

Reporting by Hesham Abdul Khalek; Editing by Miyoung Kim & Kim Coghill

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via Reuters