Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has published an astonishing personal blog detailing what he claims is extortion and blackmail on behalf of National Enquirer tabloid magazine.
The billionaire, 55, took the unprecedented step of posting the allegations the US tabloid magazine said they were prepared to publish about him if his newspaper, the Washington Post, did not stop investigating them.
The National Enquirer broke the story about Bezos’ relationship with Lauren Sanchez which, the tabloid claimed, was conducted behind his wife’s back.
The Amazon tycoon – the richest man in the world with a fortune of nearly $140billion – is currently splitting from wife MacKenzie in the largest divorce ever.
In his post on medium.com, Bezos says he was allegedly threatened with the publication of nude photos of him and suggestive photos of Sanchez unless he publicly made a statement saying the magazine’s parent company American Media (AMI) was never “politically motivated or influenced by political forces”.
The magazine publisher is at the centre of a continuing controversy involving Donald Trump over the practice of “catch and kill,” in which stories were allegedly bought by the National Enquirer but never published to avoid embarrassing the President.
Bezos published the emails his lawyers had received from AMI after they wrote to them wanting to broker a deal.
They allegedly approached Bezos after learning he had been conducting a private investigation into how it obtained his text messages between him and Sanchez.
They tried to persuade him into shutting down the investigation because of the likelihood it may lead to more damning revelations about AMI’s “catch and kill” tactics and its political ties to Trump and other world leaders.
The photos in question include a “full-length body selfie of Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks,” and a “naked selfie in a bathroom,” among others, according to a threatening email sent to the man Bezos hired to run the private investigation penned Dylan Howard, the chief content officer of AMI on February 4.
In a letter sent to Bezos’ lawyers, Jon P Fine – AMI’s deputy general counsel – accused the Amazon tycoon of "continuing defamatory activities".
He said the Enquirer’s activities were "consistent with applicable laws" and wrote: "American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.
"Simply put, this was and is a news story."
Mr Fine said the Washington Post’s reporters "continue to pursue and to disseminate these false and spurious allegations in a manner that is injurious to American Media and its executives".
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