News·3 min read

Daily Skimm: Jeff Bezos's Phone, Rohingya Muslims, and 'Miss Americana'

Jeff Bezos
Getty Images
January 23, 2020


The Story

Saudi Arabia allegedly hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Allegedly hacked?

That's according to two UN experts. Yesterday, they revealed that a WhatsApp account belonging to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) may have been used to hack Bezos's iPhone. And that it was apparently an effort to "influence, if not silence" The Washington Post's reporting on the kingdom. Reminder: Bezos has owned the Post since 2013.

Wait so Bezos and MBS had each other's numbers?

Yep. The two exchanged phone numbers at a dinner party in 2018. The UN believes MBS's account sent an encrypted video message via WhatsApp that contained digital spyware. That allegedly enabled surveillance of Bezos's cellphone starting in May of that year. He then started receiving messages from the same account hinting the sender knew private details about his personal life (think: affair, divorce). Bezos called for an investigation into the alleged hacking.

What does this have to do with reporting?

Well, UN officials think the timing of it is sketchy. At the time of the hacking, the Post was releasing articles critical of the kingdom and had been working with Jamal Khashoggi (a Saudi dissident and journalist) to report on it. Khashoggi was dismembered that year by Saudi agents in Istanbul. The report said that the timing of the hacking further supports that MBS "ordered, incited, or, at a minimum, was aware of planning" the mission that targeted Khashoggi.


Indeed. The Saudi embassy said the allegations of hacking are "absurd." But the UN claims that the allegations reinforce other evidence of the kingdom cracking down on dissidents. The UN also called for immediate backup from the US to further investigate the Bezos case.


The alleged hacking of the world's richest man is raising serious security questions. And could further complicate relations between Saudi Arabia and the US over Khashoggi's death, an issue that President Trump has been reluctant to point fingers on.

Skimm More: Our guide goes deep on Saudi Arabia's global influence.


What's issued a major ruling...

The International Court of Justice. Today, the UN's highest court ordered Myanmar to take measures to prevent genocide against Rohingya Muslims. The ruling comes after public hearings last month, when Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi defended her country against the allegations that it carried out a genocide. Gambia brought the case to the court on behalf of an organization of Muslim nations. In 2017, Myanmar's military carried out attacks on the Rohingya, burning villages, raping women and children, and killing thousands of people. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. Today's ruling relies on the UN for enforcement.

What's on the international radar…

The new coronavirus. The pneumonia-like virus has now killed at least 17 people and infected over 500. It's also spread to at least six other countries, including the US. The virus, which can be passed human to human, seems to have officials working overtime to stop it from spreading further. In Wuhan, China (where the virus originated), officials have issued an order to quarantine the city. At least three cities in China, including Wuhan, have stopped public transportation (think: buses, trains, planes).

Skimm This: Our latest podcast ep goes into what the coronavirus is and how officials are handling it.

Who's receiving 'best wishes' and not footballs…

Eli Manning. Tomorrow, the QB is expected to announce his retirement, ending his 16-year career with the New York Giants. It's a big deal since he's only one of only five players in NFL history to hold at least two Super Bowl MVPs. And has apparently held almost every passing record in team history.

Who's taking matters into her own hands...

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). Yesterday, she sued Hillary Clinton for defamation, after Clinton alleged she was a "Russian asset." Gabbard claims this smeared her "political and personal reputation." Clinton's spokesperson called the claim "ridiculous."

What's saying 'look what you made me do'…

"Miss Americana."

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