David Kaye, UN Special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, and Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, announced on January 22 they have information that suggests the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince’s WhatsApp Account deployed spyware in May 2018 that allowed for the surveillance of Jeff Bezos’ phone in an effort to influence or silence The Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia. Kaye and Callamard wrote that the circumstances and timing of the alleged hack “strengthen support” for further investigations into Mohammed’s possible involvement in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“RSF anticipates a thorough investigation into the Crown Prince’s alleged surveillance of Jeff Bezos, and reminds the international community that these allegations surface not only after the killing of a journalist in a consulate for the first time in history, but also while Saudi Arabia continues to hold at least 32 journalists arbitrarily in prison,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire. “We do consider that nations cannot turn a blind eye on its repressive methods when they cooperate with this regime and that they should not run “business as usual” for the G20 Summit to be organized in Riyadh under Saudi Arabia’s presidency”.
“The allegations outlined in this week’s UN report, along with the unresolved murder of Jamal Khashoggi, underscore the urgent responsibility of US lawmakers and the international community to rein in the Saudi Crown Prince, who has demonstrated once again a pattern of behavior that disregards international human rights standards,” said Dokhi Fassihian, Executive Director of RSF USA. “In addition, this report highlights the need for lawmakers in the United States and abroad to establish controls over the sale and transfer of surveillance technologies to states that target journalists and dissidents.”
Ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Saudi Arabia is now one the world’s three leading jailers of journalists, along with China and Egypt.