Amazon's Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer publisher of extortion and blackmail

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(AMI), the parent company of the National Enquirer, on Thursday, accusing the tabloid of threatening to publish "intimate photos" of him, including a "below the belt selfie", and potentially compromising photos of his reported girlfriend, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, if he did not end an investigation into the company and its alleged political ties.

Bezos' accusations add another twist to a high-profile clash between the world's richest man and the leader of America's best-known tabloid, a strong backer of President Donald Trump.

Mr Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, said last month they were getting divorced. That prompted Bezos to hire a private investigator, security specialist Gavin de Becker, to determine how the Enquirer obtained the texts. De Becker proceeded to tell media that the leak was politically motivated, which, according to Bezos's blog post Thursday, concerned AMI.

According to the letters, in exchange for not publishing these photos, AMI's Deputy General Counsel, Jon Fine, wanted Bezos and his team to acknowledge that "they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility".

A Fox News request for comment from AMI was not immediately returned.

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"If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion", he wrote, "how many people can?"

".In the interests of expediating [sic] this situation, and with The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer's initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering", Howard wrote.

So, in an attempt to out the publication today, Jeff published their alleged threat via a "confidential" email sent to Martin Singer, the litigation counselor for his investigator. The Enquirer later published what it called "sleazy text messages and gushing love notes" between Bezos and Sanchez, raising questions about how the tabloid was able to get such intimate material. Cohen pleaded guilty to several federal crimes and admitted that he had made a deal, on Trump's behalf, in which the Enquirer helped Trump's presidential bid by paying $150,000 United States to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal to buy and bury her story.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've made a decision to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten".

Pecker is now cooperating with federal investigators who are looking into the company's involvement with the Trump campaign.

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AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, is led by David Pecker.

In September, the Justice Department agreed to a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, which requires the company and some top executives, including Pecker and Howard, to co-operate with authorities.

It's not clear how the Enquirer acquired the texts between Bezos and Sanchez.

In his post, Bezos explained why he is speaking out against the Enquirer and American Media.

· Mr Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.

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"It shows how complicated and unsafe it is to make an agreement with National Enquirer", Levenson said.