After Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, got the video over Whats-App in 2018, his phone began sending unusually large volumes of data, said the person, who declined to be identified because they were not authorised to discuss the matter. The person said the investigators believed Crown Prince Mohammed was used as a conduit because the message would not raise suspicions if it came from him.
The findings of the investigation, completed on behalf of Bezos by Anthony Ferrante at the business advisory firm FTI Consulting, could not be independently verified by The New York Times.
After the findings were reported by The Guardian and The Financial Times, the Saudi embassy denied that the Saudi government was involved.
“Recent media reports that suggest the kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd,” the Saudi Embassy said on Twitter. “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.”
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud also termed the allegations “absurd”.
“The idea that the crown prince would hack Jeff Bezos’ phone is absolutely silly,” Prince Faisal told Reuters in Davos. He said the kingdom would investigate if it were presented with evidence “that substantiated these claims”.
Bezos’ security consultant Gavin de Becker had accused the Saudi regime of hacking the phone of the billionaire businessman, saying Saudi authorities targeted Bezos because he owned The Washington Post, which has aggressively reported on the Jamal Khashoggi murder.
Amazon and de Becker declined to comment. William Isaacson, Bezos’ lawyer at Boies Schiller Flexner, declined to comment beyond saying that Bezos was cooperating.