Amazon CEO accuses U.S. tabloid of extortion and blackmail over revealing pictures

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Bezos said he has given an unlimited budget to his lead private investigator, Gavin de Becker, to investigate the outlet after the Enquirer published a story last month that included lurid texts between the billionaire and Sanchez. Bezos recently hired a private investigator to determine how the tabloid newspaper obtained private text messages between him and his lover and whether the paper's actions were politically motivated.

In an email purportedly from AMI Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard, he writes to an attorney for De Becker that the company obtained "during our newsgathering" several other unpublished selfie photos of Bezos and Sanchez in sexually suggestive settings.

On Thursday, Bezos said the tabloid's parent company had threatened to publish intimate photographs he sent to his mistress.

AMI has denied the charges of blackmail and said the company acted "lawfully," according to the statement provided to Fox News.

"In light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr Bezos, the board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims", it said.

Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, is a frequent target for President Donald Trump, who has criticized the newspaper for its coverage.

This latest standoff began last month when Mr Bezos unexpectedly announced a divorce from his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, vowing to "continue our shared lives as friends".

Representatives for Chatham, Cooperman, AMI and the White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

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"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", Farrow tweeted. In September, though, AMI reached an agreement with federal authorities that spared it from prosecution for campaign-finance violations.

In June 2017, MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski accused President Donald Trump of threatening them with a hit piece in the National Enquirer in order to gain more favorable coverage on him on their show "Morning Joe". 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.

"These communications cement AMI's long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and goal of true journalism", Bezos wrote. Bezos said the Enquirer did not demand money.

Bloomberg News reported that federal prosecutors were already reviewing the matter, including whether the tabloid breeched its immunity agreement.

"For me one of the red flags right out of the box is that Gavin de Becker's associates have not released any kind of formal written technical analysis describing how this allegedly took place".

"My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me". 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 awful business judgment.

A judge confirmed in a court filing on Thursday that federal prosecutors in NY were still investigating campaign finance crimes committed when Cohen paid two women to stay silent about alleged affairs with Trump before he became president.

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