The film which premiered at the prestigious Sundance festival tells a dread-inspiring tale about the excesses of monarchy, silenced peoples made possible by the US.

A new documentary titled ‘The Dissident’ is making waves as it details how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was the victim of a hack made possible through a Whatsapp message sent to him by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The documentary cited the results of digital forensic analysis shared by the Guardian, which took place in May 2018.

The report states that Bezos and the Saudi crown prince were exchanging messages when MBS sent a video file that compromised Bezos’ device, leading to the transfer of significant amounts of data from the phone.

The documentary titled ‘The Dissident’ premiered in late January, stating that the hack was made possible by Pegasus spyware. The same spyware was used to surveil Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi before his murder. ‘The Dissident’ is renewing international outcry over Saudi Arabia’s civil rights record and humanitarian abuses.

Film and fact

The docudrama doesn’t hold back or disappoint. It unequivocally affirms that figures within the United Nations, CIA, and Turkish authorities believe that Khashoggi was murdered by direct command of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Muhammad bin Salman. 

For nearly 120 thrilling minutes, Academy Award-winning director Bryan Fogel elaborates a clear and compelling case that details how the young Saudi crown prince wielded social media and Israeli technology to hack and track Saudi citizens who dared to speak out against the kingdom.

“My dream of dreams is for a distributor to give this the global release it deserves, to stand up to Saudi Arabia and honour Jamal Khashoggi and the freedom of the press,” said the director.

The documentary releases transcripts of Khashoggi’s gruesome killing and dismembering in a Saudi consulate that took nearly seven and a half minutes after he was drugged, smothered and strangled.

New Depths

‘The Dissident’ goes into depth on new areas of Khashoggi’s death including the Israeli spyware Saudi Arabia used to monitor dissidents and the significance of Twitter in the Gulf monarchy. 

Fogel’s film explains the importance of Twitter in Saudi Arabia, where 80 percent of the population uses the social media network. He also showcases the hidden struggle behind keeping the ‘right’ subjects trending. 

Saudi Arabia’s elite procured the Pegasus spyware programme developed by the Israeli NSO group which ‘The Dissident’ reveals only licenses its programmes with authorisation from the Israeli Department of Defence. 

Using the software, they would target Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Montreal, Canada, and the protege of Jamal Khashoggi. Abdulaziz and Khashoggi were involved in creating a counter-movement of what are described as ‘the army of bees’; upsetting trends and criticising the monarchy from beyond their reach. 

The documentary-come-movie elicits equal measures of anger and fear, leaving the viewer with the question: If the crown prince can’t be held to account and fears no repercussions, what is he capable of doing next? This train of thought culminates in the hard-hitting question: what happens when he’s no longer the crown prince, but king?