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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (right) speaks with Jeff Bezos, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Amazon.com (second from left) and head of Defense Digital Service Chris Lynch(left) as they visit the Defense Digital Service as Bezos visits the Pentagon May 5 , 2016. (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos ’86 has accused the tabloid magazine National Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail.” 

Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post and is the world’s richest person, said he hired private investigators to look into the activities of American Media, Inc. (AMI), which owns the National Enquirer. In a blog post entitled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” from Feb. 7, Bezos cast doubt on AMI’s claim that it is not influenced by external or political forces.

David Pecker is the chairman and CEO of AMI. 

Bezos also suggested a link between AMI and President Donald Trump, who has supported the Enquirer and frequently sparred with Bezos, recently calling him “Jeff Bozo” and mocking him over his divorce.

As Bezos mentioned, AMI was granted legal immunity by New York prosecutors, since it agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged hush-money payments to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who supposedly had an affair with the president. 

After Bezos and his wife announced they were divorcing, the Enquirer published “intimate text messages” in a story about Bezos and his relationship with news anchor Lauren Sanchez. 

Bezos claimed in the blog post that he had hired people to investigate AMI and that, in response, the Enquirer threatened to publish more text messages and photos, allegedly including photos and messages from Sanchez and nude or partially nude photos of the Amazon executive. 

He emphasized in the blog post that “rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail,” he has “decided to publish exactly what they sent [him], despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.” In that post, he published emails that were sent from the AMI Chief Content Officer to Bezos’ lawyer, emails that detailed the personal information the Enquirer claimed to possess.  

“My lawyers argued that AMI has no right to publish photos since any person holds the copyright to their own photos, and since the photos in themselves don’t add anything newsworthy,” Bezos wrote. 

He remains firm in his belief that the magazine’s actions were politically motivated.

The National Enquirer, meanwhile, has repeatedly argued that it has not engaged in either blackmail or extortion, and that its actions have been lawful. It remains to be seen whether AMI will face legal charges. 

On Sunday, Feb. 10, The Daily Beast reported that Bezos’ investigators had identified Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, as the source of the alleged leakage of Bezos’ personal content. Michael Sanchez, a strong supporter of President Trump, has not been charged with any crime. 

Bezos did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication. Quadrangle Club, the eating club of which Bezos was a part during his time at the University, declined to comment on the matter. 

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