Federal prosecutors reportedly have evidence showing that Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, gave text messages to her brother, which Sanchez’s brother then sold to the National Enquirer for $200,000 and were featured in its article about Bezos’ affair with Sanchez.
“The evidence gathered by federal prosecutors includes a May 10, 2018, text message sent from the phone of Lauren Sanchez, Mr. Bezos’ girlfriend, to her brother Michael Sanchez containing a flirtatious message from the Amazon chief,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The Enquirer quoted the text in its January 2019 article about Mr. Bezos’ extramarital affair with Ms. Sanchez. A July 3, 2018, text message sent from Ms. Sanchez’s phone to her brother’s includes a photo of a shirtless Mr. Bezos.”
Recent news reports suggested that Saudi Arabia could have been behind a hack that obtained the messages from Bezos after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman messaged Bezos over WhatsApp.
“The text messages reviewed by the Journal, as well as a $200,000 payment Mr. Sanchez received from the Enquirer under an October 2018 contract the Journal also reviewed, supports American Media’s earlier statements that he was the source for the National Enquirer’s article,” The Journal added. “The Saudi government said the allegation that the crown prince hacked Mr. Bezos’ phone was absurd and called for an investigation.”
Manhattan federal prosecutors had been investigating whether Bezos’ phone was hacked.
The Saudi Embassy in the U.S. responded to the allegations by tweeting: “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.”
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 Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) January 22, 2020
A spokesperson for American Media, which owns the National Enquirer, told The Journal that “In September of 2018, Michael Sanchez began providing all materials and information to our reporters” and that any claim that Saudi Arabia, or any other third party, was involved was “false.”
VICE broke the story earlier this week on the allegation that Saudi Arabia was behind a hack of Bezos’ phone.
“The report, obtained by Motherboard, indicates that investigators set up a secure lab to examine the phone and its artifacts and spent two days poring over the device but were unable to find any malware on it. Instead, they only found a suspicious video file sent to Bezos on May 1, 2018 that ‘appears to be an Arabic language promotional film about telecommunications,'” VICE reported. “That file shows an image of the Saudi Arabian flag and Swedish flags and arrived with an encrypted downloader. Because the downloader was encrypted this delayed or further prevented’study of the code delivered along with the video.'”
The report assessed that “Bezos’ phone was compromised via tools procured by Saud al Qahtani,” who is a friend and top advisory to MBS.
VICE added, “He was also president and chairman of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones and was known to procure offensive hacking tools on behalf of the Saudi regime, among them tools made by the Italian company Hacking Team.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.