Amazon's Bezos says National Enquirer owner tried to blackmail him

Jeff Bexos

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.

The blog post is the latest twist in a weeks-long saga that has brought the personal life of Bezos, the richest person in the world, into the spotlight.

Last month, the Enquirer reported on Bezos divorce and published text messages between him and Lauren Sanchez, whom he was said to be dating.

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

"I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering", Howard wrote, going on to say that the Enquirer had a "below the belt selfie" of Bezos, among other shots. The e-mails detail explicit photos The Enquirer had obtained of Mr Bezos and Ms Sanchez but hadn't run, and went on say AMI would not publish the photos if Mr Bezos stopped his investigation and publicly said he did not think the leak had been politically motivated.

AMI did not immediately return a request for comment.

Bezos, who owns more than $120 billion in Amazon stock, said in his blog: "If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?"

AMI's relationship with Trump has gotten the company into hot water in the past.

Bezos also raised the publisher's links to Saudi Arabia - whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accused of directing the murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The company has been cooperating with investigators in the Southern District of NY ever since it admitted to making a $150,000 "catch-and-kill" payment to rid of a story about an alleged affair Trump had with former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The alleged emails show the outlet threatening to release a series of texts and photos he sent to his current girlfriend Lauren Sanchez while still married to MacKenzie Bezos.

That admission was part of a deal between AMI and federal prosecutors, who agreed to not pursue charges against the company for secretly assisting Trump's campaign by paying $150,000 United States to a Playboy model for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with the then-candidate.

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The National Enquirer previously published an expose on Sanchez' and Bezos' relationship.

Pecker is now cooperating with federal investigators who are looking into the company's involvement with the Trump campaign.

"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 includes the emails from AMI in his Medium post.

In his post on Medium, Bezos called his ownership of The Post "a complexifier" for him.

This whole story, as Bezos would put it, is complexifying my brain.

"Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos's phone was hacked", the reporter continued.

"It shows how complicated and risky it is to make an agreement with National Enquirer", Levenson said.

But the company has admitted in the past that it engaged in what's known as "catch-and-kill" practices to help Trump become president.

· Mr Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.

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