Here's everything we know about how Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia was apparently able to hack Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' phone
- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' phone in May 2018, the Guardian reported Tuesday - claims that UN investigators backed on Wednesday.
- This is the latest development in a year-long saga that begun in January 2019, when Bezos announced his divorce from MacKenzie Bezos, shortly before his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez was made public.
- News of the affair led to concerns over whether Bezos' phone was hacked, and the investigation that ensued eventually raised the possibility that the Saudi government was responsible for accessing the Amazon CEO's personal information.
- Here's everything that's been reported about how the crown prince apparently gained access to the Amazon CEO's phone.
- Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.
March 21, 2018: Ahead of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's three-week tour of the US, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is invited to a small dinner with him in Los Angeles.
The US trip is meant to paint the crown prince as a "reformer and globalist."
April 4, 2018: Both Bezos and Crown Prince Mohammed attend a dinner in Los Angeles at the home of producer Brian Grazer, co-hosted by talent agent Ari Emanuel.
Other guests at the dinner include Disney CEO Bob Iger and former NBA star Kobe Bryant.
At the dinner, Bezos and Crown Prince Mohammed exchange phone numbers.
The same day, the royal reportedly initiated a conversation with Bezos over WhatsApp.
May 1, 2018: Bezos receives an "unexpected message" from Crown Prince Mohammed containing an encrypted video file, per reports.
The video "appears to be an Arabic language promotional film about telecommunications," showing Arabic text over images of Saudi and Swedish flags. It's not clear whether Bezos viewed the video, but immediately after getting the file, the amount of data transmitted on Bezos' phone increased by "three hundredfold," the reports say.
November 8, 2018: Crown Prince Mohammed reportedly sends a meme to Bezos on WhatsApp with text reading, "Arguing with a woman is like reading the software license agreement. In the end you have to ignore everything and click I agree."
The photo in the meme bears a passing resemblance to Lauren Sanchez, who would later be revealed to be having an affair with the Amazon CEO.
January 9, 2019: Bezos announces he's getting a divorce.
The same day, the tabloid National Enquirer reports that Bezos and Sanchez had been dating for months. The paper obtained "raunchy messages and erotic selfies" exchanged between the two —including Bezos' infamous "I love you, alive girl" message — and said that it had a nude photo "too explicit to print."
February 7, 2019: Bezos publishes a blog post accusing the National Enquirer's publisher, AMI, of "extortion and blackmail."
He also insinuated possible ties between the National Enquirer's investigation into his personal life and the Saudi government.
February 14, 2019: After more than three months of no communication, Bezos reportedly receives another message from Crown Prince Mohammed.
The message warns Bezos that "all what you hear" is not true, and says: "there is nothing against you or Amazon from me or Saudi Arabia."
March 31, 2019: Bezos' chief security consultant Gavin de Becker writes in The Daily Beast that following an investigation into how the National Enquirer got its information, he could conclude "with high confidence" that the Saudi government had hacked Bezos' phone and gained access to his private information.
He reveals Bezos has been subject to numerous threats by the Saudis since October 2018.
Source: The Daily Beast
June 2019: The United Nations starts to look into Bezos' allegations about the Saudi hack after someone close to him reportedly shares a forensic analysis of the Amazon CEO's phone.
Source: New York Times
January 21, 2020: The Guardian first reports on a forensic investigation that shows Crown Prince Mohammed hacked Bezos' phone in 2018 using a video file containing malware.
Source: The Guardian
January 22, 2020: UN investigators release their report a day later, saying with "reasonable certainty" that Crown Prince Mohammed was involved in hacking Bezos' phone.
The UN also calls for an "immediate investigation" into Crown Prince Mohammed.