Friday 8 February 2019 11:13 am

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of blackmail in feud over reporting of his personal life

Sport and Business Reporter at City AM. Email:

Sport and Business Reporter at City AM. Email:

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Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has accused the National Enquirer and its owner, American Media, of “blackmailing” him with the threat of releasing intimate photos and text messages.

In a statement published on Medium, Bezos claimed that the tabloid had threatened to publish photos and messages between him and the woman he has been dating, Lauren Sanchez, unless he called off an investigation into how it obtained the messages.

Read more: Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie announce divorce

The National Enquirer published a series of stories last month revealing Bezos' relationship with Sanchez after he announced he was divorcing wife MacKenzie Bezos after 25 years of marriage.

Some of the stories included text messages between the Sanchez and Bezos and claimed that Bezos only made the divorce public knowledge after learning the Enquirer was preparing to publish a story.

Bezos has hired investigators to find out how the outlet obtained the messages and intimate photos.

In his statement, Bezos included what he said were emails from American Media's chief content officer and deputy general counsel.

“Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words below,” he said.

The emails included information about how the images and messages were obtained and proposed an agreement that would involve “a public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgement” that the company's intentions were not politically motivated.

However, Bezos' statement has sought to rebuff that as the feud deepens.

“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 said.

“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.”

American Media's history with US President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of Bezos, has led to suggestions the outlets motivations were political.

Read more: Amazon presents a mixed bag to investors after record holiday sale

The chief executive of American Media, David Pecker, is a long-term friend of President Trump, and also reportedly agreed to publish flattering stories of the President, while also buying and suppressing negative stories in a “catch and kill” arrangement.

The company avoided prosecution in December for paying off a woman to stop her revealing “damaging allegations” regarding Trump, after reaching an agreement with the US Justice Department to provide “substantial and important assistance” in Michael Cohen's investigation – Trump's former lawyer who was sentenced to three years in prison.

American Media is yet to provide comment on the matter.