Key events leading to statement on Jeff Bezos phone hack

AP

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Experts at the United Nations said Wednesday that the phone of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was likely hacked through a file sent from an account used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The experts called for an "immediate investigation" by the United States.

A forensic report commissioned by Bezos and shared with the U.N. experts found with “medium to high confidence” that his phone was infiltrated in 2018. The independent U.N. experts allege that the hacking was an “effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia.”

Below is a timeline of events:

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April 4, 2018: Bezos and the Saudi prince meet at a dinner in Los Angeles and exchange phone numbers.

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May 1, 2018: An encrypted video file is sent to Bezos’ iPhone from the Saudi prince's WhatsApp account, according to U.N. experts. Within hours, there is a spike in data exiting Bezos' phone. In the following two months, the phones of three Saudi dissidents and an Amnesty International official working in the country are either targeted or infected by commercial spyware.

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Oct. 2, 2018: Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is killed by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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Nov. 8, 2018: According to the U.N. experts' statement, a photograph is texted to Bezos from the Saudi prince’s WhatsApp account resembling a woman Bezos was having an affair with. ___ November 2018 and February 2019: The U.N. experts cites a forensic analysis alleging that the Saudi prince revealed in WhatsApp messages sent to Bezos private and confidential information about the Amazon CEO's personal life. At the same time, Bezos is targeted in Saudi social media as an alleged adversary of the kingdom.

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Jan 9, 2019: Bezos tweets that he is separating from his wife of 25 years. The tweet comes just before the National Enquirer tabloid publishes a story saying Bezos was having an affair.

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Feb. 7, 2019: Bezos publishes a blog post on Medium.com accusing the National Enquirer of trying to bribe him with embarrassing “below the belt" photos sent to his girlfriend. Bezos calls his ownership of The Washington Post a “complexifier for me” and adds that “powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.”

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March 21, 2019: Gavin De Becker, a private investigator hired by Bezos, publishes an opinion piece on The Daily Beast, alleges that the Saudis comprised the Amazon founder's phone. It is based on a forensic report done by FTI Consulting, a company run by former National Security Council cybersecurity official Anthony Ferrante.

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Jan. 22, 2020: The U.N. experts publish their statement after reviewing the full FTI report.

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