Amazon boss Jeff Bezos: 'I'm being blackmailed over photos'
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last night claimed that the 'National Enquirer' tabloid is threatening to publish revealing photographs of him unless his private investigators back off the tabloid.
Mr Bezos - the world's richest man, worth $150bn, and owner of 'The Washington Post' newspaper - detailed the revelations in a blog post last night.
He accused the 'Enquirer' of "extortion and blackmail."
The 'National Enquirer' published a story last month that included lurid texts between Bezos and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
Since then, private investigators have been looking into how the 'Enquirer' got the texts.
Jeff Bezos said the tabloid's parent company, AMI, tried to get him to agree to a deal for the 'Enquirer' not to publish the explicit photos.
As part of the deal, Bezos would have to release a public statement that he has "no knowledge or basis" to suggest the tabloid's reporting was politically motivated.
Mr Bezos said his lawyers argued that AMI had 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.
He said AMI claims the photos are newsworthy because they show Amazon shareholders that his business judgment is terrible - despite the firm usually occupying a spot among the top five most valuable companies in the world.
On his blog last night, Mr Bezos published letters received by his lawyers from legal representatives for the 'National Enquirer' which set out their offer to withhold the photographs from publication if he cancelled his investigation and issued an agreed statement.
The letters listed in detail the photographs in the tabloid's possession, the people in the photos, and the nature of their revealing poses.
"Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there's a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?" Mr Bezos asked.
"These communications cement AMI's long-earned reputation for weaponising journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism," he said.
"Of course I don't want personal photos published, but I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out."