Chair’s statement: the alleged Saudi hacking of Jeffrey Bezos’ mobile phone 

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Statement by Maria Arena (S&D, BE), Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Reacting to UN experts’ call for an investigation into allegations that the Saudi Crown Prince was involved in surveillance of The Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO, Jeffrey Bezos, the Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights Maria Arena stated:

“I am astonished by the alleged Saudi hacking of Mr Bezos’ mobile phone, as revealed by UN human rights experts.

The reported surveillance of Mr Bezos is of great concern, as it demonstrates that no one is immune to cyberattacks, cyber-intimidation and their personal data being manipulated by states or private organisations working for these states. It also confirms that this behaviour fits into a broader pattern of Saudi Arabia’s targeted surveillance of perceived dissidents and opponents, including Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Cyber-hacking capabilities are a powerful tool in the hands of those at the highest level of states to target and intimidate all those criticising regimes that abuse human rights. It is high time, therefore, for the EU to take further action to ensure that citizens’ private data are secure. In other words, the digital world must not become a means to scrutinise everyone’s privacy. Against this background, the EU should express its strongest concern and re-consider its attendance at the G20 summit in Riyadh in November 2020.

The Subcommittee on Human Rights will continue to actively support the work of Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, and of David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression.”

Background

Jeffrey Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post newspapers that employed murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Subcommittee received UN human rights expert Agnès Callamard on 3 December 2019.