National Enquirer owner defends reporting on Amazon's Bezos

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos

The world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, has said he was the target of "extortion and blackmail" by the USA tabloid, the National Enquirer, alleging it threatened to publish intimate photos he sent to his mistress.

That same day, the National Enquirer touted it was publishing alleged intimate text messages between Mr Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor whom he was said to be dating. Bezos put his security chief Gavin de Becker in charge of an investigation into the leaks.

The blog post included emails from an AMI attorney saying the tabloid wouldn't post the intimate photos if the Bezos camp publicly stated that it has no evidence to suggest the Enquirer's coverage 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 an extraordinary blog post he published on Medium, which includes what he says is the text of emails from AMI execs spelling out their demands.

Bezos says he was the target of "extortion and blackmail" by American Media. "Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary", it added.

Trump in turn has frequently criticized Bezos and his newspaper, the Washington Post, for everything from taxes and shipping fees to printing "fake news". Last month, he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announced plans to divorce.

AMI has not yet responded to the BBC's request for comment. "I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out", Bezos says.

In his blog post, Mr Bezos mentioned AMI's links to President Donald Trump.

The deal not to prosecute was conditional on AMI not committing any crime, according to the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY.

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

The Daily Beast reports that Bezos is investigating "how his text messages ended up in The National Enquirer".

AMI has ties to Saudi Arabia, predominately in connection with Trump, as well.

A spokesman for Bezos declined to comment on whether he has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other law enforcement authorities about American Media's actions. While his lawyers argued that AMI had no right to publish the photos since Bezos himself holds the rights over themand that they were not newsworthy, AMI claimed the newsworthiness was that the photos would show the shareholders of Amazon that Bezos had bad business judgment.

The company is cooperating with federal prosecutors looking into its efforts to help the Trump campaign before the 2016 presidential election by killing stories "about the presidential candidate's relationships with women". In his exchange with a representative for AMI, he argued that the Enquirer wasn't allowed to publish the compromising images because they belonged to him and are protected by copyright laws.

-Martin Singer, de Becker's legal counsel.

"But after The National Enquirer published details of Bezos" love affair, the Amazon CEO managed to elicit some sympathy from Trump. Ronan Farrow, who has reported on AMI's practice of buying stories in order to bury them (known as "catch and kill"), tweeted Thursday that he has received such threats.

The Amazon boss had hired a private investigator to look into whether AMI's revelation of his affair was "politically motivated".

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