In an online post, the chief executive of Amazon said the tabloid’s owner had used “extortion and blackmail” to try to stop his investigation into leaked photos and text messages.
By Karen Weise
SEATTLE — Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and the world’s richest man, accused the owner of The National Enquirer on Thursday 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.
In an extraordinarily personal online post, Mr. Bezos said intermediaries of David Pecker, the chairman of American Media Inc., the nation’s biggest tabloid news publisher and owner of The National Enquirer, had approached him to stop his investigation. Mr. Bezos said he had been told that if he refused, the publisher would make risqué and intimate photos of the billionaire and his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, public.
“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks and corruption,” Mr. Bezos wrote of A.M.I., explaining why he had decided to speak out. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over and see what crawls out.”
The matter began last month when Mr. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced that they were getting divorced. The couple disclosed their separation just before The National Enquirer published an article exposing that Mr. Bezos was having an affair with Ms. Sanchez, a former television host who is also married.
In recent interviews, including with The Daily Beast and The Washington Post, Mr. Bezos’ private security consultant, Gavin de Becker, said he was investigating whether Ms. Sanchez’s brother, who has said he supports President Trump, may have been behind the leak for political reasons. Mr. Trump has long criticized Mr. Bezos, who owns The Post.
Mr. Bezos’ online post on Thursday contained what he said were emails between Mr. de Becker’s lawyers and A.M.I.’s lawyer.
“Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words,” Mr. Bezos wrote.