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

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday accused the owner of the USA newspaper National Enquirer of blackmailing him with threats of publishing "intimate photos" he sent to his mistress if he did not publicly announce that the tabloid's reporting on him was not politically motivated.

David J. Pecker, the publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, has reached an immunity deal with federal prosecutors in order to serve as a key witness in their investigation into whether Donald Trump made illegal payments to two women who claim they had affairs with him.

Bezos subsequently hired a private investigator to find the source of those leaked text messages, and determine whether the publication was looking to use the alleged affair as political payback for the reporting of the Washington Post, which the Amazon CEO acquired back in 2013.

NEW YORK: The stunning extortion claims made by Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos against the Trump-friendly National Enquirer tabloid have spotlighted a fierce behind-the-scenes media feud, taking place in an ever more toxic U.S. political climate. Mr Bezos said he had been told that if he refused, the publisher would make risque and intimate photos of him and his mistress, Ms Lauren Sanchez, public.

"In light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims".

"I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer", Bezos said. 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.

Bezos said in his Medium post that the tabloid threatened to keep the photos and publish them in the future "if we ever deviate from (the) lie" that politics played no role in the Enquirer's pursuit of Bezos' relationship with Lauren Sanchez. But what would have been a private matter escalated exponentially when the National Enquirer chose to publish the lovers' intimate text exchanges.

AMI, according to Bezos, had alerted him that the Enquirer had a collection of racy photos of him and Sanchez.

More news: Alleged Kamala Harris affair sheds light on cronyism in Calif. government

The Washington Post publishes many articles critical of Trump, and the president has said the paper acts as Amazon's "chief lobbyist". That same day, the Post published a story about the leaked texts under the headline, "Was tabloid exposé of Bezos affair just juicy gossip or a political hit job?"

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said however on Twitter he didn´t believe they would pursue the company. "In a tweet, he said de Becker "spreads fake, unhinged conservative conspiracy theories" and "'dog whistle' smears".

Bezos shared an AMI email regarding details of the intimate photos-one described as a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a "d*ck pick" - that the National Enquirer obtained during its "newsgathering". AMI has reportedly explored business ties with Saudi Arabia and published a magazine past year exclusively devoted to fawning coverage of Mohammed bin Salman, its crown prince, Bezos noted.

President Trump tweets a shot at the Amazon CEO.

"After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker's loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia". Howard also said that AMI did not level any threats against "either Joe or Mika or their children in connection with our reporting on the story".

Bezos's blogpost also included an email from Jon Fine, an AMI lawyer, seeking "a public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility".

Trump is suspected of campaign finance violations because of the disbursements on grounds they were made to affect the outcome of the vote and should therefore have been reported to government campaign monitors.

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

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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