Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, accused the owner of The National Enquirer on Thursday (Feb 7) of trying "extortion and blackmail" to stop his investigation into how his private text messages and photos with his mistress were leaked to the tabloid.
Mr Bezos' online post details a stunning and freaky clash between the world's richest man and the nation's biggest tabloid publisher.
In a stunning blog post on Thursday, Mr Bezos posted an email he said had been sent to his intermediaries by AMI's representatives threatening to publish "intimate photos" of Mr Bezos and his lover, former TV host Lauren Sanchez. He launched an investigation into how private text messages between him and Lauren were obtained by the magazine and "to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer".
Mr. Bezos, who is also owner of The Washington Post, detailed his interactions with American Media Inc.in an extraordinary blog post Thursday on the Medium.com website.
Bezos said the statement AMI was proposing was false and described the offer as an "extortionate proposal". The e-mails detail explicit photos The Enquirer had obtained of Mr Bezos and Ms Sanchez but hadn't run, and went on say AMI would not publish the photos if Mr Bezos stopped his investigation and publicly said he did not think the leak had been politically motivated.
A Fox News request for comment from AMI was not immediately returned. "If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?" he said. Bezos said in his post. Pecker directed the Enquirer to write favorable stories about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, while paying $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to suppress her claim of a long-running affair with Trump.More news: Motorola unveils four Moto G7 phones: Plus, vanilla, Power and Play
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That admission was part of a deal between AMI and federal prosecutors, who agreed to not pursue charges against the company for secretly assisting Trump's campaign by paying $150,000 USA to a Playboy model for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with the then-candidate.
In its January 9 story, the Enquirer said reporters followed Bezos and 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".
In addition, he included emails from AMI's deputy general counsel, Jon Fine, detailing a list of terms under which AMI said it would withhold publication of the photos. It admitted to "catch-and-kill" practices as part of a deal with federal prosecutors, who agreed to not pursue charges against the company.
He accuses the Enquirer of "extortion and blackmail".
"Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos's phone was hacked", the reporter continued. "It's ripped right out of the law books".
· Mr Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.
He added, "At an extreme level, this shows how frightening it should be to the citizens of the United States that the National Enquirer reportedly has a safe full of information about the president of the United States".