Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon.com Inc, has accused the owner of the National Enquirer of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing “intimate photos” he allegedly sent to his girlfriend.
In a blog post, Bezos said that the tabloid threatened to release the photos if he did not publicly announce that the tabloid’s reporting on him was not politically motivated.
“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. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
American Media Inc (AMI), the owner of the National Enquirer, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Bezos and his wife announced last month that they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage, following a period of “loving exploration” and trial separation.
Probe into National Enquirer leak
After the National Enquirer touted it was publishing alleged intimate text messages between Amazon’s CEO and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor whom he was said to be dating, Bezos opened an investigation into the leak led by Gavin de Becker, a longtime security consultant and former appointee of US President Ronald Reagan.
De Becker proceeded to tell media that the leak was politically motivated.
In his blog, Bezos cited an email from AMI deputy general counsel, Jon Fine, to a lawyer representing de Becker. In it, AMI proposed a public acknowledgment from Bezos and de Becker that “they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that [AMI’s] coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”
In return for such an acknowledgement, according to the email, AMI offered “not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos.”
Bezos said the statement AMI was proposing was false and described the offer as an “extortionate proposal.”
Fine and de Becker could not immediately be reached for comment.
Bezos’ accusations against the tabloid follow a long-standing strife between the Washington Post, the newspaper Bezos owns privately, and US President Donald Trump, who Reuters report has close links to the National Enquirer.