Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote an open letter accusing the National Enquirer of a politically motivated blackmail attempt Thursday.
Bezos wrote in a letter to American Media, the Enquirer’s parent company, and its head David Pecker on Medium.
Bezos wrote that he company tried to blackmail and extort him by threatening to expose his affair with former news anchor Lauren Sanchez and said it had explicit photos of him. The company threatened to publish the photos unless he put out a statement saying his investigator looking into the stolen texts has “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces."
"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," Bezos wrote.
Bezos alleged that Pecker, an ally of President Donald Trump who helped kill multiple stories about his alleged affairs during the 2016 campaign, was behind the politically motivated hit job.
Bezos also hinted at a potential Saudi Arabian connection to the investigation his security chief launched.
"Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is 'apoplectic' about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos wrote.
"A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker's apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn't stop our investigation," he added.
Bezos security chief believes ‘government entity’ was involved:
Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia told MSNBC that Bezos security chief Gavin De Becker believes the government may be involved in the plot.
“They have begun to believe, the Bezos camp, that this publication by the National Enquirer might have been politically motivated,” Roig-Franzia said Thursday.
“Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked, he thinks it’s possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages,” he added.
Ronan Farrow says AMI tried to blackmail him over Trump reporting:
Reporter Ronan Farrow wrote that he and at least one other journalist were threatened with blackmail for covering Trump’s business dealings with the National Enquirer.
“I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the National Enquirer’s arrangement with Trump fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI,” he wrote. “I did not engage as I don’t cut deals with subjects of ongoing reporting.”