Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer tabloid of 'blackmail' over intimate photos

Billionaire claims he is being asked to halt investigation into paper's expose of his affair with a news anchor

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has accused a US tabloid of blackmailing him by threatening to release intimate photos. AP Photo
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has accused a US tabloid of blackmailing him by threatening to release intimate photos. AP Photo

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has accused the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid of blackmail after it threatened to publish intimate photographs sent by the billionaire to his mistress if he did not cease his investigation into how the newspaper got the pictures.

It comes after the tabloid, having accessed private text messages, last month reported Mr Bezos had an extramarital affair with former news anchor and entertainment reporter Lauren Sanchez – a leak that led to his divorce.

In a post on blogging platform Medium on Thursday, Mr Bezos said Enquirer publisher American Media Inc (AMI), led by David Pecker, approached him with a threat to publish the photos if he did not halt an investigation into the motives behind the leak.

He said the publication demanded he and security consultant Gavin de Becker, who is leading the probe, publicly state they had "no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces".

Mr De Becker mentioned in a recent interview that "strong leads point to political motives" – and that he was interested in Sanchez's brother Michael, a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump with links to his inner circle, as a possible perpetrator.

And in his Medium post, Mr Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pointed to AMI and Mr Pecker's previous co-operation with Mr Trump – including payments made to suppress negative stories, currently under investigation by federal prosecutors.

Mr Bezos, his newspaper and Amazon are all regular targets of Mr Trump's Twitter tirades.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten," Mr Bezos wrote in the post, which was titled "No thank you, Mr Pecker" and included copies of emails from AMI.

"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," he said.

Updated: February 8, 2019 08:57 AM