Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has accused the National Enquirer and American Media, its owner, of “blackmailing” him with the threat of releasing his intimate photos and text messages.
In a statement that was published on Medium, Bezos said that the tabloid had threatened to publish messages and photos between him and Lauren Sanchez, the woman he has been dating, unless he called off a probe into how it got hold of the messages.
Last month, the National Enquirer published a series of stories that reveal the relationship of Bezos with Sanchez after he announced that he was divorcing MacKenzie Bezos, his wife, after 25 years of marriage.
Some of the stories included text messages between Bezos and Sanchez. It also claimed that Bezos only announced the divorce after he learned that the Enquirer was preparing to publish a story.
Bezos has hired a group of investigators to discover how the outlet obtained the intimate photos and messages.
In his statement, Bezos included what he stated were emails from the chief content officer and deputy general counsel of American Media.
He stated: “Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words below.”
The said emails included details about how the messages and images were obtained. It also proposed an agreement that would include “a public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgement” that the intentions of the company were not politically motivated.
However, the statement of Bezos has sought to ignore that as the feud deepens.
He stated: “Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”
He added: “Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
The history of American Media with US President Donald Trump, who is a frequent critic of Bezos, has led to suggestions that the motivations of the outlet were political.
David Pecker, the chief executive of American Media, is considered as a long-term friend of President Trump. Reportedly, he also agreed to publish flattering stories of the US President, while also buying and suppressing negative stories in a “catch and kill” arrangement.
Last December, the firm avoided prosecution for paying off a woman to stop her revealing “damaging allegations” regarding President Trump, after reaching an agreement with the Justice Department of the United States to provide “substantial and important assistance” in the investigation of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who was sentenced to three years in prison.