The story unraveled to the public in January 2019 when Jeff Bezos announced his divorce from his wife, Mackenzie Bezos. Hours later, the National Enquirer revealed the extramarital affair Jeff Bezos had with Lauren Sanchez after a four-month investigation following the couple. The big announcement was rumored to be Bezos attempt to get ahead of extortion efforts from The National Enquirer’ which threatened to leak explicit photos of Bezos from his extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor.
A Digital Investigation into the Leak
Bezos commissioned an investigation into the leaked messages to Gavin De Becker, the security consultant of the rich and famous. The investigation revealed one obvious suspect, Lauren’s brother Michael Sanchez, as well as another whose motives extend far beyond extorting money. According to the New York Times, Sanchez received $200 000 from the National Enquirer and after giving the tabloid publication exclusive rights to the photos. Sanchez, however, repeatedly denies these claims.
The other suspect of the leak is none other than the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That takes the story’s beginning back to May 2018 when Bezos received a message via WhatsApp from the Saudi Crown Prince. FTI Consulting had found that the video file sent was infected with a hack meant for data theft – making the Saudi Prince another suspect into the leak. In response to these accusations, the Saudi embassy vehemently denied the data breach on Twitter.
Convoluted Political Motives
The potential motive behind hacking Jeff Bezos goes deeper and deeper as more connections are made. The video file was received before the suspicious death of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi who vocally opposed the Saudi government. Being the owner of the Washington Post put Bezos behind Khashoggi, effectively opposing the Saudi Crown Prince.
The Saudi government is not the only one with potential contempt towards Bezos, but President Trump has shown to have a less than ideal relationship with billionaire. Bezos publicly criticized Trump during the 2016 elections and the Washington Post published critical content about Trump and his administration. Michael Sanchez, suspected of leaking the photos, is a known Trump supporter as well as the company that owns the National Enquirer, including David Pecker, a personal friend of Trump.
As for President Trump, his response to Bezos divorce was to wish him good luck and nicknamed him, “Jeff Bozo.” From this response, it seems as if Bezos does not have the support of the President of the United States with his data leak. But as the owner of one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Bezos holds a much different power than the President. And this data breach threatens the integrity of his sensitive information both for his businesses and his personal life.
What This Means for Jeff Bezos
Bezos has spent the past year trying to outwit the media in order to avoid more leaks, but the possibility of the Saudi government insidiously accessing his data can have much bigger consequences than his divorce.