Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday he was the target of "extortion and blackmail" by the publisher of the National Enquirer, which he said threatened to publish revealing personal photos of him unless he stopped investigating how other private photos and messages were obtained by the tabloid.
Mr Bezos said: "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've made a decision to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten".
Another email, apparently from AMI chief legal counsel Jon Fine, asks Mr Bezos and Mr de Becker to publicly say that they have no evidence that the Enquirer's story "was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility", in exchange for the media company not publishing further text messages and images.
Soon after, Bezos initiated an investigation "to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer", he wrote in the Medium post.
As part of the deal, Bezos would have to release a public statement that he has "no knowledge or basis" to suggest the tabloid's reporting was politically motivated.
"But", he continued, "I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks, and corruption". A representative for AMI responded in one of the emails: "With millions of Americans having a vested interest in the success of Amazon, of which your client remains founder, chairman, CEO, and president, an exploration of Mr. Bezos' judgment as reflected by his texts and photos is indeed newsworthy and in the public interest".
AMI has not commented on the matter.
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Mr Bezos said AMI had wanted him to stop looking into it for political reasons. Now that the world knows what the photos show and how they were brought to Bezos's attention, the Enquirer's decision to publish them would look that much sleazier.
Patrick Whitesell and Lauren Sanchez at the Los Angeles Premiere Of Warner Bros. "I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out". According to the New York Times, Trump and Pecker dined together to celebrate him winning the presidency. He owns the Washington Post, which has written critical stories about Trump, who counts Pecker as a close ally.
· Mr Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.
In his post, Bezos explained why he is speaking out against the Enquirer and American Media.
AMI - which is run by David Pecker, a longtime pal of President Trump - has admitted to buying the rights to potentially embarrassing stories about the commander-in-chief in an effort to keep them from seeing the light of day.
Bezos copy and pasted an email allegedly from Dylan Howard, AMI's COO, days after that initial threat was made, which claims that they have obtained nine lewd photos of Bezos and Sanchez in addition to a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a 'd*ck pick'".