Bezos says Enquirer threatened to publish revealing pics

LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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.

Bezos, who is also owner of The Washington Post, detailed his interactions with American Media Inc. in an extraordinary blog post Thursday on the Medium.com website.

After the tabloid published a story about his extramarital affair last month, Bezos ordered a team of private investigators to get to the bottom of how the Enquirer obtained risque texts between the executive and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Since then, there's been a public relations battle.

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Lauren Sanchez out and about
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: TV Personality Lauren Sanchez attends the 25th anniversary celebration of 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on September 10, 2018 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: TV Personalities Renee Bargh, Lauren Sancheza and Charissa Thompson attend the 25th anniversary celebration of 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on September 10, 2018 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: WME's Patrick Whitesell, Lauren Sanchez and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos attend Jeff Bezos and Matt Damon's 'Manchester By The Sea' Holiday Party on December 3, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23: Lauren Sanchez Sound Breast Institute Reception, Hosted by Embeth Davidtz on February 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Presley Ann Slack/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
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Earlier this week, the tabloid's editor, Dylan Howard, emailed an attorney for Bezos' longtime security consultant in order to describe photos the Enquirer "obtained during our newsgathering." The photos include a "below the belt selfie" of Bezos, photos of him in tight boxer-briefs and wearing only a towel, and several revealing photos of Sanchez, according to the email Bezos released in his blog post.

According to emails Bezos posted, an attorney for American Media Inc., the Enquirer's parent company, offered a deal Wednesday: The tabloid wouldn't post the photos if Bezos and his investigators would release a public statement "affirming that they have no knowledge or basis" to suggest that the Enquirer's coverage was "politically motivated or influenced by political forces."

Bezos' investigators have suggested the Enquirer's coverage of his affair was politically motivated. Bezos has been the target of criticism from President Donald Trump over the Post's critical coverage of the White House, and AMI has admitted that it engaged in what's known as "catch-and-kill" practices to help Trump become president.

That admission was part of a deal between AMI and federal prosecutors, who agreed to not pursue charges against the company for secretly assisting Trump's campaign by paying $150,000 to a Playboy model for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with the then-candidate. The company then intentionally suppressed the story until after the election.

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Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels hush payment scandal
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Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels hush payment scandal
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks to the media outside US Federal Court on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. Some of the documents reportedly relate to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims a one-night stand with Trump a decade ago, and ex Playboy model Karen McDougal who also claims an affair. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Michael Cohen's attorney Todd Harrison arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen (centre) leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Michael Cohen's attorney Todd Harrison is pictured outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti is pictured though a window as he arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti arrive at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Daniels claims she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006 and took a $130,000 hush payment shortly before the 2016 election from lawyer Michael Cohen. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Trumps lawyer Michael Cohen exits the US Federal Court on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. Some of the documents reportedly relate to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims a one-night stand with Trump a decade ago, and ex Playboy model Karen McDougal who also claims an affair. / AFP PHOTO / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ (Photo credit should read EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, (C) also known as Stormy Daniels arrives for a court hearing at the US Courthouse in New York on April 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti(C), arrives for a court hearing at the US Courthouse in New York on April 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Avenatti (R), attorney for Stormy Daniels, arrives for a court proceeding regarding the search warrants served on President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, April 13, 2018 in New York City. Cohen and his lawyers are asking the court to block Justice Department officials from reading documents and materials related to his relationship with President Donald Trump that they believe should be protected by attorney-client privilege. Officials with the FBI, armed with a search warrant, raided Cohen's office and two private residences earlier in the week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Last month, the Enquirer reported that Bezos sent "sleazy text messages and gushing love notes" to Sanchez, months before Bezos announced he was splitting up with his wife, MacKenzie. Reporters for the Enquirer followed Bezos and Sanchez "across five states and 40,000 miles" and "tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and 'quality time' in hidden love nests," the tabloid said in its story. The Jan. 9 story carries the bylines of Howard and two reporters.

In his blog post Thursday, Bezos said he decided to publish the emails sent to his team "rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail," despite the "personal cost and embarrassment they threaten."

An attorney for AMI did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Thursday.

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