Riyadh denies having hand in Bezos nude selfies

Riyadh denies having hand in Bezos nude selfies
Saudi Arabia has denies suggestions it helped leak lewd pictures of owner of The Washington Post, which has been critical of the kingdom since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
4 min read
11 February, 2019
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir: We didn't do it [Getty]
Saudi Arabia has denied suggestions it helped leak alleged nude pictures of the Amazon CEO and owner of The Washington Post Jeff Bezos, with the daily's critical of Riyadh since the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

On Thursday, Jeff Bezos, who is also the world's richest man, suggested there were links between the Saudi government and the owners of The National Enquirer, the US tabloid reporting on his alleged extramarital affair allegedly based on intimate pictures obtained unlawfully from his phone communications.

In a blog post on Thursday, the billionnaire accused American Media Inc (AMI), The National Enquirer’s owner, of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing "intimate photos" unless he publically stated that the US tabloid's reporting on him was not politically-motivated.

Bezos in his entry alluded to Saudi Arabia’s displeasure at the Washington Post’s coverage of the murder of its late columnist Jamal Khashoggi and referenced media reports about alleged links between AMI and Riyadh that may have played a role in the affair.

AMI chief David Pecker is a close ally of Donald Trump, who has been accused of shielding powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - the intelligence agencies have said allegedly ordered Khashoggi's assassination.

During bin Salman's visit to Washington last year, AMI published a 100-page magazine praising the "New Kingdom" of Saudi Arabia. Reports suggest that Pecker has been in talks with Saudi investors for a joint project, although he has since denied this.

In an interview aired on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir claimed his government had "absolutely nothing to do" with the scandal.

"This is something between the two parties, we have nothing to do with it,” Adel al-Jubeir told CBSFace the Nation when asked if Riyadh was involved in The National Enquirer leaks.

"It sounds to me like a soap opera," he said, claiming he was not aware of any links between the Saudi government and AMI or its CEO David Pecker.

AMI said on Friday its reporting on Bezos was lawful and it would investigate his claims.

A lawyer for the US media group's chief on Sunday denied either Trump or Saudi Arabia were the source of the story on Bezos, who suggested a government entity may have hacked his communication, but declined to identify where it had obtained the material from.

Al-Jubeir claimed in the same interview that Riyadh does not know where Khashoggi's body is despite having in custody the Saudi team that murdered him.

'Deny everything'

But the Saudi claim was thrown into immediate question as al-Jubeir claimed in the same interview that Riyadh does not know where Khashoggi's body is despite having in custody the Saudi team that murdered him.

The dissident journalist was dismembered after his murder 2 October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but his remains have yet to be found.

Asked where Khashoggi's body is, Jubeir flatly told CBS: "We don't know."

Jubeir said the public prosecutor responsible for the case had sought evidence from Turkey but had received no response.

Questioned why those in custody couldn't tell them where the body was, Jubeir responded: "We are still investigating."

"We have now a number of possibilities and we're asking them what they did with the body, and I think this investigation is ongoing, and I would expect that eventually we will find the truth," he said.

Jubeir was interviewed on Friday, the same day President Donald Trump ignored a congressional deadline for reporting on who assassinated Khashoggi.

The CIA has concluded the Saudi operation was likely directed by the powerful crown prince, but the White House has side-stepped that finding amid strenuous denials by Riyadh, a key US ally.

A New York Times report on Friday said the CIA had intercepted communications of the crown prince telling a top aide in 2017 that he would go after Khashoggi "with a bullet" if the journalist did not return to Saudi Arabia.

With input from agencies