Who Hacked Jeff Bezos?
Jeff bezos is a man with a lot of power. He founded Amazon. Owns The Washington Post and unless Amazon is having a bad day on the stock market. Jeff bezos is the richest man in the world. Being a powerful person can can often mean. You're a target and last week. Jeff bezos said he was at target a target of a hack that he says was done by Saudi Arabia. This is just the latest plot point in a long and complicated relationship between basis and the Saudi government today on the show the Saudi connection to Jeff Bezos. Welcome to the Journal. Our show about money business empower. I'm Ryan Awesome and I'm Caitlyn Baugh. It's Monday January twenty seven things weren't weren't always so complicated between Bazo in Saudi Arabia. Actually for a few years basis and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman seemed to be friends. The two met in two thousand sixteen. When bezos took a business trip to the country looking to see what opportunities there might be Amazon and the crown prince saw so the potential benefits of being friends with him if Mohammed bin Salman could form a public relationship with basis where they were seen together and they were seen as in the same universe I mean Mohammed could make himself like he's the kind of guy travels in the same services? Jeff bezos. It would help him and it would help his stature at home and abroad. This is Justin check. He covers finance. He's especially been focused on Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Salman New Vision for the country Mohammed bin. Some on early on he identified Amazon is company that he wanted to establish itself in Saudi Arabia. To help boost settier profile and economy and make it more of the country he admissions has planned out a five hundred billion dollar brand new city to be built from scratch and the idea was that it was going to be center for Innovation and they identified a number of anchor companies. They wanted to come there early on with the Greek government incentives the government paid billions dollars. Free land free ranked in all sorts of other incentives to bring them there to start creating jobs and to create innovative new. Corporate structures and Amazon was one of them. And do we have any sense of whether Bezos was on board with that plant the Prince and bazars personally discussed various plans to bring Amazon specifically Amazon web services to Saudi Arabia. They were talking about a deal where Amazon invested its own money. Maybe a billion dollars more of its own money building data centers in Saudi Arabia turning into a regional hub. which would have been a brand new thing for the kingdom and would have added a level of legitimacy in the business world world? Hadn't really had Bazo hasn't commented on his relationship with the Saudis and representatives for the Saudi government also declined to to comment as did an Amazon spokesperson but Justin and his colleagues spoke to people on both sides of the agreement and they said this deal was an exciting thing for for basis and Mohammed bin. Salman those sources say that the two men continued to discuss the agreement from afar her and then in the spring of two thousand eighteen. The prince took a trip. The kicked off a series of events. That would eventually call this relationship into question. Mohammed bin Salman to the United States for three weeks in a big splashy campaign to change American perceptions about the conservative and oppressive kingdom the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is poised to take Hollywood by storm later today. Reportedly set to meet with heavyweights rupert. Murdoch and Bob Iger among long others Warwick tour. You went to starbucks the Michael Bloomberg net everyone from President Trump to Oprah Winfrey to Richard Branson Prince was and did. TC Jeff bezos he's charged in La. They had dinner at the dinner in Los Angeles on April fourth. Two thousand eighteen. The Prince and basis exchanged contact information so basis phone and just sent a message to the prince said hello. NBS NBS's Muhammad Awesome on and Muhammad replied. Say Hello I saved the number Mohammed Bin Soman and for context the Prince. Is it extremely busy person. Listen and he stays up all night and I don't think he sleeps very much and he is. What's that messaging with a lot of people all over the world seemingly all the time and so it wasn't really unusual that he and basis would have changed? What some numbers and they would then send messages back and forth? It's in keeping with the way the prince does things after. They exchanged numbers burs on. What's APP bezos became one of the people? NBA stayed up late at night messaging. According to Justin sources. They discuss business over what's APP. And then Bezos got another message from MBA's WHATSAPP account in May of two thousand eighteen. You Mohammed sent a video and it was kind of promotional tours in video about Saudi Arabia. Bazo didn't react to the video at the time. But but according to a report commissioned by Bays and released last week there was apparently something weird about this video shortly after that was sent huge volumes of data started leaving basis his phone in a way that it's not normal and so these people hired by basis concluded that there was some kind of spyware aware file attached to the video that was installed them basis his phone and that was used to pull data off the phone. What did the Saudis say about that allegation? The Saudis that was absurd but for context year has been widely reported publicly in the couple of months before this alleged infiltration of the business phone. The Saudi government had used spyware to infiltrate the phones of a number of dissidents. So there had been this fairly widespread effort to spy on people's phones leading up to that Saudi officials close to the crown. Prince told the Journal they were aware aware of a plan to hack basis phone though they were not aware that a hack actually happened. The Saudi government denies that the Prince hacked bases phone but around. This time there was an issue that the Saudi government had with Bazo business owned The Washington Post and the people close to Bazo say that there was resentment over the Washington Post publishing columns by dissident criticizing the kingdom. Those columns were written by a man named Jamal. Kashogi Jamal Kashogi was sort of uniquely. Saudi figure. Columns were a very critical of what was happening in. Saudi Arabia of especially of the crackdown on dissent and of dissidents being locked up being silenced otherwise and is there any evidence that Jeff bezos had a direct line or was in communication with Jamal Kashogi. Well it's hard to get into someone else's mind but when you come from a government in a country where this one guy who's in charge charge and what happens is on extension of what he says when you deal with another institution where there's one guy in charge you may come from it from the mindset mindset that everyone does what you say. Are there any other possible. Motivations the Saudis could have had to hack bases phone. You know there's a good relationship between between the trump administration and so there's all sorts of speculation around trump dislikes pesos. And Call Them Jeff Bozo in a tweet and trump doesn't like the Washington Post and there could be a convergence of interests around making business look bad and what trump wants and what the Saudis want. I mean who knows you know like maybe it's good to have everything inside the phone of a really rich guy. These are just theories that would emerge months later but at this time Basil's was unaware that his phone own may have been compromised and he kept using it to message. NBS over what's APP. They talked about business. Deals talked about the data center. Mama talked about his plans for the kingdom named him seemed fairly friendly and then in October of two thousand eighteen as most listeners. Fino Kashogi was murdered inside the Saudi Saudi embassy in Istanbul by people who work for the crown prince new details reported on the murder of Jamal. Kashogi Turkish TV showing video of men carrying luggage edge into the residents of the Saudi Council General in Istanbul. The report says the five suitcases contain the remains of the Washington Post columnist the CIA has reportedly reportedly concluded that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad. Bin Salman ordered Kashogi murder. The crown prince denies any involvement. Outrage is growing as leaders are demanding demanding answers from Saudi Arabia. And that's when the relationship between Bezos and mom. It really sort of fell apart this. This created a rift between the Prince and Bezos in the weeks before Kashogi killing. NBS had been texting Bezos. Saying it was really important. Shortened bezos come to Saudi Arabia for an economic development conference. NBS was hosting Mahmoud. Has this conference in two thousand seventeen. The called at Davos in the desert was nicknamed. It attracted you know. All the titans of finance took upset He Arabia and was this public display of how the king destination for the world's was as powerful investor's business people to eighteen was supposed to be even bigger and Bezos had talked about coming for surprise guest and then Amazon Emerson have pulled out of any dealing around conference and a lot of other people pulled out as well and I think upset the prince felt you know he's being abandoned. NBS and Bazo as you were no longer on friendly terms and that was just the start of trouble for Jeff Bezos. That's after the break My My name is Dr Alexander Sachs. I'm a psychiatrist. And the host of the Gimblett Podcast Motherhood sessions which is back for a second season each episode. I sit down with women who've come in with a question or a problem and we work on it together. When was the last time you tax? I think it was like two years ago. I just I feel feel like the sexual part of me is just doesn't exist anymore. You can listen to the new season of motherhood sessions for free on spotify or wherever you get your podcast. Welcome back by the end of two thousand eighteen M. BSN Simba's were not on good terms but no one knew the extent of it. Not and tell a personal drama in Betas life brought it to light and there's a person in here at the Journal who's watched it all unfold the head of our investigations team a man named Mike Second Nafi and how most people refer in the newsroom psycho. But again that doesn't have to be chief or boss. I answer to a lot of names I just WanNa. Does he copy. There's a lot of copy that crosses my desk and the recent stories that he's been editing have their genesis in a big announcement. bezos made last year in January of last year basis came out with a tweet announcing that his wife of Twenty Five Years Mackenzie bears as us. And he were divorcing and shortly after that the National Enquirer tabloid paper of record came out with screaming headlines. Talking talking about how the divorce was prompted by an affair. Visas had with Lawrence Sanchez born Sanchez a TV. The anger was married herself at the time. And so what looked to be a major revelation of a personal nature by Bazo. The divorce forest turned within a few hours into a much larger scandal because it involved the national enquirer releasing to the public very embarrassing information about. Jeff Bezos is a fair which led to the divorce and some photographic evidence of this. Yes there were photos and they were texts that the national poorer gotten so. Can you give us a flavor of those texts yell try. This is revanchism. NASA's told Sanchez. I want to smell you. Want to breathe you in. I I want to hold you tight. I WanNa Kiss Your Lips. I Love You I am in love with you and on and on until recently bazo had sort of a geeky reputation in in an interview in two thousand fourteen. He said that doing dishes every night was the sexiest thing he does is. His personal life was certainly kept private for many years and everyone when they focus on days as they talked about the brilliance of his business acumen and handle he founded Amazon and turned it into this monster company that everyone uses. You seem to be a private guy. And it's that private persona that made Bazo says public response after this saga. Perhaps even more surprising about a month later is she can extraordinarily blog post on what's called medium in this. Post bezos wrote quote. It's unavoidable that certain in powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude. I am their enemy. And bezos hinted at two potential enemies. Amis who might be behind the national enquirer Article One the White House which head publicly complained about Washington Post coverage and the other the Saudi Saudi government the connection between Saudi Arabia and the national enquirer might seem surprising but they have a history three. Here's Justin we know that. Prince Muhammad and David Pecker. WHO's the head of the parent company of it's national enquirer had met two thousand seventeen really knew each other and around the two thousand eighteen visit when Muhammad keeps America? You do you choir published Glossy magazine. That was basically I mean. It was almost reminiscence stuff that you'd seen the tabloids Princess Diana was the fawning over the top language. About how amazing Prince. Muhammed is changing Saudi Arabia. One of the world's biggest investors and incredible American ally fighting terrorism and it was this like fawning piece of suck up the national enquirers parent company sources. This is have said. He had talked with the Saudis about funding for the company and in this blog. Post bezos revealed that he thought the national enquirer her was going after him beyond just the one story they'd published. He accused the paper of trying to blackmail him by threatening to release more details about his extramarital title affair. racy photos more texts ones. That would be even more embarrassing if they ever came out to Bezos than what had previously come out things things like according to vases medium post a full length body Selfie of Mr Bazo swearing just a pair of tight black boxer boxer briefs or trunks with his phone in his left hand while wearing his wedding ring or other naked cell fees and the like exactly exactly Bazo said in this medium post that the national enquirer was blackmailing him because they wanted him to stop investigating how they got his texts and why they wanted them. American media The parent company of the National Enquirer denies. There were any political motives behind the report on basis. When you read red basis as medium post what was your reaction to reading that letter? Do you remember. Holy smokes or some variation of that probably in the national enquirer had for many years been trafficking in racy information. But this is the first instance that we were aware of where. You're an executive. Try to get ahead of the inquirer is doing and flip the script on them and put them on the defensive so we knew it was a huge story. We just didn't know how far we'RE GONNA go. Basis is public admission about these photos and texts and his claim blackmail launched a bunch of different investigations and prosecutors reporters and Bezos himself. Were all trying to figure out what happened. Exactly how the national enquirer was able to get a hold of the texts and whether the inquirer was motivated by anything other than juicy tabloid gossip we launched investigation to our team through sources that he spoke with discover that the enquirer had received a number of photos and texts from Michael Sanchez. who was the brother of bezos lover Lawrence Sanchez? And what did our sources say about. Who Michael Sanchez is so Michael? Sanchez wasn't particularly well. No known before this incident as a talent agent and he's managed some television stores in reality show judges but the more important element of this at least as it relates to the inquirer. Is these long. been a source for the Inquirer reporters here at the Journal. Were able to find the contract. Michael Sanchez signed with the national enquirer. There was an agreement. That inquiry came up with Michael Sanchez. Paying the princely sum of two hundred thousand dollars four text photos and others nation that related specifically to the affair that his sister had with just Basil's in that contract Michael Sanchez said he got the text and photographs that legally so that left Mike and his team wondering how exactly did Sanchez. Get those texts and last week on Friday. They found out the photos and the texts. That Michael Sanchez Sanchez. Got were sent to him by none other than his sister learned Sanchez the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. It is in possession of these texts showing the progression of the text and photos from Lawrence Sanchez to Michael Michael Sanchez to the national enquirer. But wait a minute here. This is his sister. Sent the FOTOS use. These racy photos the text that you read to her brother. Why would she do that? Why don't they anyone could get into Lawrence Sanchez's head and Lauren has not responded to requests that we've made multiple requests for comment at the time she was married? Jeff Bezos was married so people could speculate about witter. Antennas were what the effect was that it did trigger or seem to trigger bezos to get a divorce from his wife and now Lauren Sanchez. And Jeff Bezos. Those are a couple Michael. Sanchez declined to comment on the texts or his contract. With American media in a statement he said quote with Spoon Fed lies and half-truths The Wall Street Journal keeps getting it wrong. Lawrence Sanchez didn't respond to requests for comment. And an attorney for Jeff bezos declined to comment. There's one aspect of the text revelations that Justin says is unresolved. There's this little space is in there. which is that? It's still unclear how the inquirer was first tipped off about the affair. The Inquirer said they were tipped off to the affair. It advance of getting the stuff from the brother and we don't know how they were tipped off last week. A report that was commissioned by Basil's came out it looked into the possible hacking his phone and that report concluded that Saudi Arabia likely hacked into his iphone through that video message sent in May of twenty eighteen to United Nations officials reviewed the report and said that those was likely hacked by Saudi Arabia In an attempt to influence how the Washington Post was covering the country but especially too many cybersecurity experts. The report wasn't complete. Nobody's found the malware on the phone. There's big gaps here. So there are all these speculative reasons why something might be true or something might have happened but there still remains the fact that nobody's found the alleged piece of militia software. The report also doesn't say what sort of things if any were taken off off of Bazo says phone by the Saudis. The questions. It's around the is there any nexus between what they believe. Saudi Arabia did what came out in the acquirer. We're not sure shore. Private information was compromised from the richest man in the world and we know that the national enquirer was up to its own thing. Buying the information from the the girlfriend's brother and the Saudis allegedly have their own plan to take business information. They're there are all these individual data points you think you know. Is there something deeper. Here's this just a we just connecting dots and be connected. It's possible to totally separate. It's possible this relationship it's also possible. There isn't a Saudi thing because again it's up been proven that he infiltrated the phone could be two separate things could only be one thing could be one unified thing. We don't really know remains a mystery. It remains a mystery but it might not for too long. Now get to work. Yeah That's all for today. Monday January twenty seventh. The Journal is a CO production of Gimblett and the Wall Street Journal. Quick disclosure. Rupert Murdoch is the owner of newscorp which is the parent company of the Wall Street Journal. Special thanks to Somerset. He'd Bradley Hope Joe Palo Solo. Oh and Corey Ramey for their additional reporting. Thanks for listening see you tomorrow.