Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says National Enquirer publisher tried to extort him

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

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

Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, said the Enquirer made the blackmail threat after he began looking into how the tabloid acquired text messages that revealed his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment other than to confirm that Bezos wrote the post.

Earlier this week, De Becker told the Post that he believed the Enquirer's reporting about Bezos was sparked by a "politically motivated" leak, and told the Post and the Daily Beast that his investigation had looked at Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez's brother, who is connected to a number of associates of President Donald Trump.

For those who haven't been keeping up with this scandal, the National Enquirer originally posted alleged text messages shared between the couple.

His blog contained itemised details of 10 pictures in an email from the magazine's editor Dylan Howard, who said they had been "obtained during our newsgathering".

"Of course I don't want personal photos published, but I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption", Bezos wrote of AMI, in explaining his decision to go public.

"Clearly Bezos will have a civil claim against AMI if they chose to bring it, but the question is whether it is criminal", said David Berger, a litigation partner with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

"I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer's arrangement with Trump fielded similar "stop digging or we'll ruin you" blackmail efforts from AMI", Farrow tweeted Thursday evening.

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In his blog, Bezos cited an email from AMI deputy general counsel, Jon Fine, to a lawyer representing de Becker.

The relationship between the National Enquirer and Trump has been repeatedly scrutinized by the media, given the president's long friendship with AMI chief executive David Pecker. The photos include a "below the belt selfie" of Bezos, photos of him in tight boxer-briefs and wearing only a towel, and several revealing photos of Sanchez, according to the emails Bezos released. The National Enquirer admitted past year, according to the Southern District of NY police, to facilitating a USD$150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to retain exclusive rights to her story - some say to ensure the details weren't released until after the campaign.

AMI recently admitted it had co-ordinated with the Trump presidential campaign to pay a Playboy model $150,000 (£115,000) in hush money to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Mr Trump.

A spokesman for AMI didn't respond to a request for comment. Mr Bezos owns The Washington Post, which has relentlessly reported on the murder past year of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident. Bezos commissioned de Becker - his longtime security consultant - to investigate how the material fell into the Enquirer's hands.

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

If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they'll publish the photos, and quickly. That's one of the dangers to democracy of what they were engaged in when they were catching and killing information they could have used against Candidate Trump and now President Trump.

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