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The Jeff Bezos hacking allegations destroy the myth of a new Saudi Arabia

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22.01.2020

If Mohammed bin Salman or figures close to him really did hack the phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, it would be another nail in the coffin of the crown prince’s attempt to rebrand Saudi Arabia’s global image under his de facto leadership. It would also raise further serious questions over the relationship between western powers and the Saudi kingdom.

Experts working for Bezos – who also owns the Washington Post – have concluded with “medium to high confidence” that a WhatsApp account used by Bin Salman was directly involved in the hacking of the billionaire’s phone in May 2018. The two had met earlier in the spring of that year during the crown prince’s extended tour of the UK and US, as he met a plethora of politicians and business leaders in an effort to shore up geopolitical support for his regime and secure much-needed inward investment – in an era of decarbonisation and lower oil prices.

At the time, Bin Salman was particularly preoccupied with the writings of one of the Post’s columnists, Jamal Khashoggi, a former court insider who had moved to the US and was now using his platform to directly contradict the monarchy’s claims that the kingdom was undergoing a meaningful process of liberalisation. A few months earlier, in September 2017, Bin Salman had reportedly spoken of silencing Khashoggi “with a bullet”. In October 2018 Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, a........

© The Guardian