Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of "Extortion and Blackmail"

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer of

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has released emails he claimed to have received from USA tabloid The National Enquirer, in which the publication is shown to be extorting him.

"In light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr Bezos, the board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims", it said.

Hours later, the National Enquirer published a story detailing an alleged affair between the billionaire and entertainment personality Lauren Sanchez, publishing pictures and text messages between the couple.

The Bezos affair became public when the Enquirer published a January 9 story about his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor who is also married. According to Bezos' account, American Media was so troubled by de Becker's probe and his public comments about it - and his conclusion that the Enquirer's coverage was "politically motivated" - that it tried to shut up Bezos and de Becker.

Bezos, however, chose to publish the correspondence rather than give in to those demands. "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 in the post. "I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out", he added. Michael Sanchez did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.

Trump has often railed against Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post, on Twitter.

Dylan Howard, the chief content officer for the Enquirer's parent company American Media, said at the time that "we have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story, and absolutely no involvement in those discussions". De Becker suggested it was meant to embarrass Bezos in his capacity as owner of the Post, which he purchased in 2013. AMI helped Trump lawyer Michael Cohen suppress the stories of two of Trump's affairs during the 2016 presidential election campaign by either purchasing one, in one case, or, in the other, helping to arrange a deal for Cohen to purchase them, according to the government's criminal complaint against Cohen to which he pleaded guilty. He argues that the threats from the publication are politically based since he owns the Washington Post and the Enquirer is cozy with President Trump.

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This charge makes me wonder if Pecker isn't America's answer to Rupert Murdoch, whose British tabloids were famous for hacking Britons' telephone messages and then blackmailing or smearing them with the stolen material. In 2015, Bezos offered to blast Trump into space, but has mostly avoided mentioning Trump publicly - until Thursday. Reporters for the Enquirer followed Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez "across five states and 40,000 miles" and "tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and "quality time" in hidden love nests", the tabloid said in its story.

The whole story is weird, and at first glance appears like just the sort of thing a tabloid like the National Enquirer would consider front-page news.

Bezos pointed to the president's ties to AMI in the Thursday blog.

Finally, the Bezos investigator has been telling the Washington Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia that he does not believe Bezos' phone was hacked.

He said his ownership of the Washington Post was a "complexifier" for him because he had made enemies of "certain powerful people", including President Trump, who is a friend of AMI's boss, David Pecker.

Mr Bezos detailed the revelations in a post on the website.

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