Chief executive allegedly targeted because he owns Washington Post, where Jamal Khashoggi was columnist

The security chief for Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, says the Saudi government had access to Bezos’s phone and gained private information from it.

Gavin de Becker, Bezos’s longtime security consultant, said he had concluded his investigation into the publication in January of leaked text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sánchez, a former television anchor whom the US National Enquirer tabloid newspaper said Bezos was dating.

Shortly before their publication, Bezos had become the subject of tabloid stories after he and his wife MacKenzie, announced they were divorcing.

In February, Bezos accused the National Enquirer’s owner of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing “intimate text messages” he allegedly sent to Sanchez, unless he said in public that the tabloid’s reporting on him was not politically motivated.

In an article for The Daily Beast website, De Becker said the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc (AMI), had privately demanded De Becker deny finding any evidence of “electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process”.

“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” De Becker wrote. “As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”

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