Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Business | By Pearl Harrison

Jeff Bezos accuses Donald Trump-ally AMI of extortion

Jeff Bezos accuses Donald Trump-ally AMI of extortion

Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Inc, has accused the owner of the National Enquirer of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing "intimate photos" he allegedly sent to his girlfriend unless he said in public that the supermarket tabloid's reporting on him was not politically motivated.

Bezos' extramarital 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.

Bezos backed up his "extortion" charge with copies of what he said were multiple emails from American Media.

On Friday, AMI said that at the time of Bezos' allegations it was "in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him".

Mr Bezos' own investigator had, he claimed, suggested earlier that there were indeed "strong leads" to suspect political reasons.

In his Medium post, Bezos wrote that Pecker and AMI are under investigation "for various actions they've taken on behalf of the Saudi Government", noting that the tabloid recently published a special, pro-Saudi propaganda edition.

Trump in turn has frequently criticized Bezos and his newspaper, the Washington Post, for everything from taxes and shipping fees to printing "fake news".

Representatives for AMI did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Bezos' post.

"So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. It's unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy", Bezos wrote in the blog post.

The deal not to prosecute was conditional on AMI not committing any crime.

He added: "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've chose to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten", Bezos wrote.

Ronan Farrow, one of the reporters who covered the Trump-Enquirer alliance, tweeted on Thursday that he and "at least one other prominent journalist" had been on the receiving end of American Media's "blackmail efforts".

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused the owner of the National Enquirer of "extortion and blackmail" over leaked naked photos. Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY already picked Pecker's brain and his organization's records for anything they could use in their case against Cohen, which was apparently enough to get him off with a warning. They also included his personal text messages and pictures in the report.

The thesis of the article, as revealed in the headline, was a simple and straightforward one: "If AMI's Jeff Bezos Shakedown Was Criminal, They Can Kiss Their Non-Prosecution Agreement Goodbye".

Amateur sleuths not on Bezos' security team belive that Trump using the national security apparatus to spy on someone he considers to be his nemesis is entirely consistent with Trump's behavior. If they find any, they must also weigh whether the conduct breached AMI's previous deal to assist prosecutors. While his lawyers argued that AMI had no right to publish the photos since Bezos himself holds the rights over themand that they were not newsworthy, AMI claimed the newsworthiness was that the photos would show the shareholders of Amazon that Bezos had bad business judgment.

The payment was made during the 2016 presidential election to influence that election, according to the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY).

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