Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos accused American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, of extortion by threatening to publish potentially embarrassing personal photos of him if he did not stop an investigation into how the tabloid obtained other private photos and texts of him and his girlfriend.
In a blog post on the Medium.com
website, Bezos revealed what he characterized as "extortion and blackmail" by publishing a series of emails he says were exchanged by his and AMI's attorneys.
"I was made an offer I couldn't refuse," wrote Bezos. "Or at least that's what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I'm glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing."
The dispute, and the extraordinary release of an agreement apparently proposed by AMI, stems from the publication last month by the National Enquirer of a story about Bezos and an extramarital affair with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
Bezos ordered his team of private investigators, led by security consultant Gavin de Becker, to find out how the National Enquirer had obtained intimate texts between himself and Sanchez.
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Dylan Howard, he writes to an attorney for De Becker that the company obtained "during our newsgathering" several other unpublished selfie photos of Bezos and Sanchez in sexually suggestive settings.