American Media 'fervently' defends Bezos reporting amid blackmail claims

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In an unusual personal blog post titled "No thank you, Mr. Pecker", published on Medium, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused the owner of the tabloid the National Enquirer, David Pecker, and its parent company AMI, of "extortion and blackmail".

Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos announced their divorce about a month ago, just before the Enquirer published a story that included personal texts that said Bezos was having an affair with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

Earlier this week, De Becker told the Post that he believed the Enquirer's reporting about Bezos was sparked by a "politically motivated" leak, and told the Post and the Daily Beast that his investigation had looked at Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez's brother, who is connected to a number of associates of President Donald Trump.

Bezos says he was the target of "extortion and blackmail" by American Media.

American Media says its board of directors ordered a prompt and thorough investigation. "Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they've taken on behalf of the Saudi Government". (AMI), which publishes the National Enquirer.

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Bezos revealed in the post, published on Medium, what he said was the full text of emails his representatives got from executives with AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer.

And in his Medium post, Mr Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pointed to AMI and David Pecker's previous cooperation with Mr Trump, including payments made to suppress negative stories, now under investigation by federal prosecutors. 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 bad business judgment.

Bezos opened an investigation into the leak, led by longtime security consultant Gavin de Becker. Bezos on Thursday said he directed de Becker to "prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on", and touted Amazon's business success.

Mr Bezos' investigators have suggested the Enquirer's coverage of his affair was politically motivated.

AMI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the allegations potentially put prosecutors in an awkward position because of the deal they had already cut with AMI. He owns the Washington Post, which has written critical stories about Trump, who counts Pecker as a close ally.

"Absent the immediate cessation of the defamatory conduct, we will have no choice but to pursue all remedies available under applicable law", the February 5 letter from Fine reads.

Bezos shared an AMI email regarding details of the intimate photos-one described as a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a "d*ck pick" - that the National Enquirer obtained during its "newsgathering".

A spokesman for Bezos declined to comment on whether he has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other law enforcement authorities about American Media's actions. "And we know, because we follow the news, that when AMI panics like that, about that, we know they're doing so in the context of their still-active non-prosecution agreement with the Southern District of NY (still valid until at least the fall of 2021)".

"It shows how complicated and risky it is to make an agreement with National Enquirer, " Levenson said. In 2010 the Enquirer began running articles that encouraged the idea of a Trump presidential campaign, according to the Associated Press.

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