Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Amazon's Bezos says National Enquirer tried to blackmail him over 'intimate photos'

Amazon's Bezos says National Enquirer tried to blackmail him over 'intimate photos'

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday he was the target of "extortion and blackmail" by the publisher of the National Enquirer, which he said threatened to publish revealing personal photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the tabloid obtained his private exchanges with his mistress.

The blog post came on the same day that Gavin de Becker, Bezos' security adviser, told The Washington Post that he is investigating how text messages between Bezos and former TV anchor and now-paramour Sanchez were obtained and reported by the National Enquirer.

Bezos declined to do so. He believes they won't publish the photos unless he and de Becker state that they "have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces".

Bezos wrote that this week, the tabloid's editor, Dylan Howard, emailed an attorney for Bezos' longtime security consultant to describe photos the Enquirer "obtained during our newsgathering". "I hope common sense can prevail - and quickly".

"In the AMI letters I'm making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal", Bezos wrote.

"If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion", he wrote, "how many people can?"

Mr Bezos' online post details a stunning and freaky clash between the world's richest man and the nation's biggest tabloid publisher.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've chose to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten".

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In its January 9 story, the Enquirer reported that Bezos sent "sleazy text messages and gushing love notes" to Sanchez, months before Bezos announced he was splitting up with his wife, MacKenzie.

Since the tabloid affair, Bezos opened an investigation into the leak led by Gavin de Becker, a public safety expert and former appointee of U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

The alleged extortion raises questions among some legal observers about whether AMI and its chief executive David Pecker have violated a cooperation agreement AMI made a year ago with federal prosecutors in connection with a $150,000 hush-money payment given to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump.

The Enquirer was also a major booster of Trump during the presidential campaign.

Bezos, who is also owner of the Washington Post, detailed his interactions with American Media Inc.in an extraordinary blog post Thursday on the Medium.com website.

A spokesman for the US attorney's office in Manhattan did not immediately comment on Bezos' assertion that AMI had committed extortion. It admitted to "catch-and-kill" practices as part of a deal with federal prosecutors, who agreed to not pursue charges against the company.

It's not clear how the Enquirer acquired the texts between Bezos and Sanchez. The deal not to prosecute was conditional on AMI not committing another crime, the office said.

In a post on Medium today, Bezos claimed the chief executive of American Media Inc. Or at least that's what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. "It's a shocking and frightening thing Mr. Bezos has revealed".

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