December 03, 2018 09:54:52
Murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi described Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a “beast Pac-Man” in one of hundreds of private WhatsApp messages sent before his death.
- Khashoggi and Abdulaziz planning digital offensive against Saudi Government, which they dubbed “cyber bees”
- Canadian university reported Abdulaziz’s phone hacked by military-grade software deployed by Saudis
- Khashoggi said of Crown Prince, “The more victims he eats, the more he wants” after activists rounded up in May
In more than 400 messages sent to an exiled Saudi activist in Canada, revealed by CNN, Khashoggi paints the Prince as someone who relentlessly preys on his critics, saying, “The more victims he eats, the more he wants”.
The messages were shared with the American network by recipient Omar Abdulaziz, and were sent in the year before Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
They showed Khashoggi becoming progressively more fearful of the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, known as MbS, even suspecting the conversations with Mr Abdulaziz had been hacked.
“God help us,” he wrote in August.
“He loves force, oppression and needs to show them off, but tyranny has no logic.”
Khashoggi, an opinion writer for the Washington Post who was at one time a Saudi royal insider before becoming a critic of the leadership, was killed by lethal injection and dismembered by a group of Saudi men sent from the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has said the Crown Prince knew nothing of the operation to kill Khashoggi.
Mr Abdulaziz revealed his correspondence with Khashoggi in November when researchers at the University of Toronto reported his phone had been hacked by military-grade spyware, invented by an Israeli company called NSO Group.
CNN reported a research fellow at the university’s Citizen Lab, Bill Marczak said the software was deployed by the Saudi Government and had been used to target at least two dissidents.
The presence of the targeted spyware on Mr Abdulaziz’s phone means Saudi officials may have been able to read Khashoggi’s messages.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdelaziz said in an interview with CNN. “The guilt is killing me.”
The pair had begun to plan a digital offensive against the Saudi Government, which they called “cyber bees”, with the aim to create a portal to document human rights abuses and distribute short films.
“Do not discuss the subject of bees even in Instagram,” Khashoggi wrote when he suspected they had been hacked.
The “beast Pac-Man” message was sent in May after Saudi Arabia arrested a group of female activists weeks before it lifted a ban on women drivers.