The controversy over Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is turning murkier by the day. Days after The Guardian claimed Bezos’s mobile phone was hacked by Saudi Arabian prince in 2018, a new report, this time by Wall Street Journal, has revealed that it was, in fact, the multi-millionaire’s girlfriend who played a role in their personal chats becoming public.
According to the WSJ report, federal prosecutors in Manhattan have evidence indicating Lauren Sanchez, Bezos ’ girlfriend, provided text messages to her brother Michael Sanchez containing a flirtatious message from the Amazon chief. Sanchez sold these messages to the National Enquirer for its article about Bezos’s relationship, the report said.
The sensational claim comes days after Bezos’s much publicised India visit with Sanchez. The photos of the couple posing in front of Taj Mahal in Agra had gone viral on social media.
In India to review Amazon's India operations and meet industrialists, the 56-year-old had kicked off his three-day visit on January 14 and visited the Raj Ghat to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi hours after landing in New Delhi. He also interacted with children and indulged in a kite-flying session with them. Later, he also attended a business summit.
The text messages, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, were among the materials turned over to federal prosecutors as part of their investigation into whether American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, attempted to extort Mr. Bezos, the people said. The U.S. attorney’s office has also been investigating whether Mr. Bezos’ phone was hacked, according to the people.
In a story published in January last year, The Enquirer had quoted the text from May 10, 2018 to make a point about Bezos’ extramarital affair with Sanchez. A July 3, 2018, text message sent from Sanchez’s phone to her brother’s includes a photo of a shirtless Bezos.
Bezos had in February 2019 accused the newspaper's owner of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing "intimate photos" he allegedly sent to Sanchez unless he said in public that the tabloid's reporting on him was not politically motivated.
In a January 22 report, The Guardian newspaper said his mobile phone was hacked by Saudi Arabian prince in 2018 when, during a friendly WhatsApp exchange, a malicious video file sent by Mohammed bin Salman infiltrated the multi-billionaire.
The guardian said the encrypted file was sent to Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post, on May 1, 2018, after which “large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos’s phone within hours”.
The Saudi government said the allegation that the crown prince hacked Mr. Bezos’ phone was absurd and called for an investigation.
In March last year, the security chief for Bezos had claimed that Saudi government had access to Bezos' phone and gained private information from it.