The world’s richest man, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, has accused the Nationwide Enquirer’s proprietor of making an attempt to blackmail him over lewd footage.
Mr Bezos mentioned the journal’s father or mother firm American Media Inc (AMI) needed him to drop an investigation into the way it obtained his non-public messages.
Mr Bezos and his spouse, MacKenzie, mentioned final month they have been getting divorced.
Their announcement got here simply earlier than the Nationwide Enquirer carried stories in regards to the tech titan’s extramarital affair.
AMI has not but responded to the BBC’s request for remark.
What does Bezos declare?
In a stunning blog post on Thursday, Mr Bezos posted an e mail he mentioned had been despatched to his intermediaries by AMI’s representatives threatening to publish “intimate images” of Mr Bezos and his lover, former TV host Lauren Sanchez.
The billionaire, who additionally owns the Washington Submit, mentioned AMI had needed him to make a “false public assertion” that the Nationwide Enquirer’s protection of him and his mistress was not politically motivated.
In line with emails included by Mr Bezos in his weblog, an AMI lawyer proposed on Wednesday that the images wouldn’t be revealed in return for a public assertion “affirming that [Bezos and his team] haven’t any information or foundation” to suspect such a motive.
“Somewhat than capitulate to extortion and blackmail,” wrote Mr Bezos, “I’ve determined to publish precisely what they despatched me, regardless of the non-public value and embarrassment they threaten.”
Early within the weblog publish, Mr Bezos mentions AMI’s hyperlinks to President Donald Trump.
Why does he point out President Trump?
Mr Bezos mentioned his possession of the Washington Submit was a “complexifier” for him as a result of he had made enemies of “sure highly effective individuals”, together with President Donald Trump, who’s a pal of AMI’s boss David Pecker.
AMI lately admitted it had co-ordinated with the Trump presidential marketing campaign to pay a Playboy mannequin $150,000 (£115,000) in hush cash to maintain quiet about her alleged affair with Mr Trump.
Mr Bezos notes in his weblog publish how the writer confessed to the so-called “catch and kill” deal to bury Karen McDougal’s politically embarrassing story.
AMI’s settlement to co-operate with federal authorities means it is not going to face legal expenses over the funds, Manhattan prosecutors introduced in December.
Mr Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen – who facilitated the hush cash on the course, he says, of Mr Trump – has already admitted violating marketing campaign finance legal guidelines.
What about Bezos’ fame?
The Amazon boss did not attempt to cover the potential for embarrassment, writing “after all I do not need private images revealed” and noting what he referred to as “AMI’s long-earned fame for weaponising journalistic privileges”.
“However,” he continued, “I additionally will not take part of their well-known apply of blackmail, political favours, political assaults, and corruption. I want to face up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
His weblog contained itemised particulars of 10 footage in an e mail from the journal’s editor Dylan Howard, who mentioned they’d been “obtained throughout our newsgathering”.
New Yorker author Ronan Farrow alleged that he “and a minimum of one different outstanding journalist” had been topic to comparable threats from AMI.
Mr Bezos mentioned “AMI’s declare of newsworthiness is that the images are vital to point out Amazon shareholders that my enterprise judgment is horrible”.
However the Amazon boss countered that the agency’s outcomes “converse for themselves”.
Dylan Howard’s title, together with two Nationwide Enquirer reporters, seems on a narrative the journal revealed on 9 January containing alleged particulars of Mr Bezos’ affair with Ms Sanchez.
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