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08 February 2019, 08:42 | Hattie Nash
Jeff Bezos pens a blog post suggesting he was blackmailed by National Enquirer
Mr Bezos, who is worth $150 billion (£115 billion), said that he was told by representatives of David Pecker, chairman of American Media Inc (AMI), owner of the Enquirer, to stop his investigation or else the publisher would print a series of explicit photographs of Mr Bezos, 55, and Ms Sánchez, 49.
On MSNBC Thursday night, Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia said he had "spoken extensively" with the head of Bezos' investigation, security consultant Gavin de Becker.
It's a long, rambling post, but the gist of it is that - possibly thanks to a deep political/media conspiracy - AmericanMedia, owners of the National Enquirer, have been threatening Bezos with the publication of his n00dz, which emerged as part of the sexting scandal which destroyed his marriage.
In his blog, Bezos cited an email from AMI deputy general counsel, Jon Fine, to a lawyer representing de Becker. He accuses the Enquirer of "extortion and blackmail". Howard added, "It would give no editor pleasure to send this email".
Ted Boutrous, a veteran lawyer who briefly represented McDougal in a dispute with the Enquirer, said the emails Bezos described in his post are "a textbook example of blackmail and extortion".
"If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion", he wrote, "how many people can?" "Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they've taken on behalf of the Saudi Government".
De Becker mentioned in a recent Daily Beast interview that "strong leads point to political motives" - and that he was interested in Lauren Sanchez's brother Michael, a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump with links to his inner circle, as a possible perpetrator. Bezos made the accusations in a Medium post.
A spokesman for AMI didn't respond to a request for comment.
The tabloid magazine released an investigation into Bezos'relationship with Lauren Sanchez (pictured in the gallery alongside Bezos and ex-husband Patrick Whitesell) back in January.
According to emails Bezos posted, an attorney for AMI, the Enquirer's parent company, offered a deal Wednesday: The tabloid wouldn't post the photos if Bezos and his investigators would release a public statement "affirming that they have no knowledge or basis" to suggest that the Enquirer's coverage was "politically motivated or influenced by political forces". "I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out".
The alleged extortion raises questions among some legal observers about whether AMI and its chief executive David Pecker have violated a cooperation agreement AMI made previous year with federal prosecutors in connection with a $150,000 hush-money payment given to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump.
Bezos usually stays out of the public eye, frequently delegating announcements and public Amazon business updates to his executives.
Mr. Sanchez, who is also his sister's manager, has declined to speak with the Associated Press on the record and did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment Thursday.
"It shows how complicated and risky it is to make an agreement with National Enquirer", Levenson said.
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