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

Jeff Bezos accuses the National Enquirer of 'extortion and blackmail'

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has released an open letter in response to an alleged extortion attempt by the National Enquirer and its parent company American Media.

After the tabloid published a story about his extramarital affair last month, Bezos ordered a team of private investigators to get to find out how the Enquirer obtained lurid texts between him and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. (AMI) - which owns The National Enquirer - David Pecker, threatened to publish explicit photos of him and Sanchez.

Bezos copy and pasted an email allegedly from Dylan Howard, AMI's COO, days after that initial threat was made, which claims that they have obtained nine lewd photos of Bezos and Sanchez in addition to a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a 'd*ck pick'". "I hope common sense can prevail - and quickly".

The Amazon boss didn't try to hide the potential for embarrassment, writing "of course I don't want personal photos published" and noting what he called "AMI's long-earned reputation for weaponising journalistic privileges". "If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?" he said.

Bezos last month posted a statement on Twitter, signed by him and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announcing their plans to divorce. Reporters for the Enquirer followed Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez "across five states and 40,000 miles" and "tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and "quality time" in hidden love nests", the tabloid said in its story. Bezos began to investigate how the leak of his private information came about.

AMI - which is run by David Pecker, a longtime pal of President Trump - has admitted to buying the rights to potentially embarrassing stories about the commander-in-chief in an effort to keep them from seeing the light of day. Cohen pleaded guilty to several federal crimes and admitted that he had made a deal, on Trump's behalf, in which the Enquirer helped Trump's presidential bid by paying $150,000 USA to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal to buy and bury her story.

On Jan. 31, de Becker was quoted in the Daily Beast suggesting that the Enquirer's pursuit of Bezos was politically motivated.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've made a decision to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten", Bezos wrote in a post on Medium.

In September, the Justice Department agreed to a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, which requires the company and some top executives, including Pecker and Howard, to co-operate with authorities.

A spokesman and an attorney for AMI did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. "For prosecutors, your worst nightmare is watching a cooperation deal unravel". I'm glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing.

Mr de Becker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The tabloid magazine released an investigation into Bezos' relationship with Lauren Sanchez (pictured in the gallery alongside Bezos and ex-husband Patrick Whitesell) back in January.

Bezos includes the emails from AMI in his Medium post.

In a post on Medium today, Bezos claimed the chief executive of American Media Inc.

"It's unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy", Bezos wrote. Bezos commissioned de Becker - his longtime security consultant - to investigate how the material fell into the Enquirer's hands. It also said the photos were newsworthy, given Bezos' prominence.



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