Natl Enquirer tried to blackmail me: Bezos

Leaked text messages ultimately ended Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos' marriage.
Leaked text messages ultimately ended Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos' marriage.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is alleging that US magazine The National Enquirer tried to blackmail him.

He says the publication allegedly threatened to publish nude photos of Bezos if he didn't drop an investigation over leaked text messages that ultimately ended his marriage.

Bezos made the explosive claims on Thursday in a blog post which included multiple emails from executives of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc (AMI).

In one of those emails, AMI's chief content officer Dylan Howard describes one of the photos obtained by the publication as a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a 'dick pick'."

Other photos described in the email include half-dressed selfies of Bezos in a variety of situations, and photos of his new partner Lauren Sanchez that Howard described as "revealing her cleavage".

Bezos alleges that AMI used the photos as leverage to get him to issue a statement that basically said AMI didn't have political interests in pursuing a story about his affair.

Instead of making a deal with AMI, Bezos decided to go public, writing: "If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?"

The feud between Bezos and the National Enquirer started last month, when the tabloid first published photos showing Bezos with Sanchez, which were supposedly taken before the Amazon CEO filed for a divorce from his wife.

The Enquirer then followed up with leaked text messages between the two, some of which allegedly dated back until April of last year.

Bezos subsequently hired a private investigator to find the source of those leaked text messages, and determine whether the publication was looking to use the alleged affair as political payback for the reporting of the Washington Post, which the Amazon CEO acquired back in 2013.

"It's unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy," he wrote.

"President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post's essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles."

Bezos said he was at first verbally approached by AMI representatives threatening to release further photos and text messages unless he would drop his investigation.

When Bezos didn't immediately respond, AMI put their threats in writing. "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten," Bezos wrote.

Australian Associated Press