Last week, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ personal security consultant Gaven De Becker went public with findings that concluded “with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone.” Following The National Enquirer’s publishing of Jeff Bezos’ intimate text messages with Lauren Sanches, Bezos hired investigators to look into who was behind the data breach and subsequent leak to the controversial tabloid. The revelation took America by storm—the idea that the richest and most well-connected man in technology could have his personal data stolen is one that remains deeply unsettling. In addition to the probe, Bezos released a personal statement on Medium, wherein he exposed AMI, the parent company behind The National Enquirer, for what amounted to extortion before going public with the text messages.
The implication of Saudi involvement is not all too surprising, given The Washington Post’s unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi within the walls of a Saudi consulate. The coverage helped lead Saudi Arabia’s attorney general to concede that the murder was premeditated, and the CIA to conclude the Crown Prince himself as the mastermind behind the killing. As the owner of the Post, Bezos clearly had a target on his back.
The Saudi campaign against Bezos is not an isolated incident. According to Becker, Saudi Arabia attacks people in many ways, utilizing an extensive social media program that sometimes plants operatives within the company hierarchies themselves. It is thought that one of these many insiders may be AMI CEO David Pecker himself. The connections between Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Pecker, and Donald Trump are conspicuous: Pecker bringing an MBS intermediary to the White House, publishing a pro-MBS magazine titled “The New Kingdom” shortly after a meeting with the Prince, and reports of AMI sending advance copies of the magazine to the Saudi Embassy.
To better understand the full picture of the Bezos debacle, it is important to understand that historically innocuous tabloids have become increasingly intermixed with politics, as the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York emphasized in its case against Michael Cohen. Becker explains, “Though relatively benign at first, the Trump/Pecker relationship has metastasized: In effect, the Enquirer became an enforcement arm of the Trump presidential campaign and presidency.” Although there is no concrete evidence that indicate the Kingdom ever gave AMI the text messages that were released, the evidence is convincing.
Both AMI and the Saudi government have since released public statements, denying any involvement by the Saudis.