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Saudi Crown Prince was sent US lawsuit via WhatsApp, documents reveal

October 30, 2020 at 1:14 pm

WhatsApp logo is seen displayed on a smart phone screen on 11 December 2019 [Ali Balıkçı/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was informed of a US court’s lawsuit against him via the WhatsApp messaging app, new documents related to the case have revealed.

The summons for the court case sent to Bin Salman, which were sent in both English and Arabic on 22 September, were in regards to the lawsuit filed against him in August over allegations of his attempted assassination of exiled former Saudi intelligence chief Saad Al-Jabri in Canada two years ago.

In the documents filed to a federal court in the capital Washington DC yesterday, a computer forensics investigator named Thomas Musters said: “I was able to confirm that the Service Package and the Service Messages were delivered to each Alternative Service Defendant via WhatsApp, meaning that the message was successfully delivered to the recipient’s phone.”

They were reportedly sent to him on WhatsApp due to his known use of the popular platform, as well as the fact that it allows users to see if their messages have been received and read by the recipients.

Musters confirmed that through the read receipts and ticks, the messages “were opened by Defendants bin Salman, MiSK Foundation (served through Defendant bin Salman), Algasem, Alsaleh, and Alhamed.”

In the case filed by Al-Jabri over two months ago, he alleges that the crown prince sent a hit team of 50 agents from his personal security “Tiger Squad” to Canada in order to assassinate him. That alleged attempt failed when Canadian border agents apprehended them at the airport in Toronto.

The events took place in October 2018, a mere two weeks after the assassination of another exile, the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The court summons is not the only incident in which WhatsApp has been a platform for Bin Salman’s political controversies, the crown prince used the messaging app to send a virus to Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ phone in an effort to hack it earlier this year.

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