Federal prosecutors have found no evidence that Saudi Arabia was directly responsible for leaking racy photos and text messages between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his mistress to a U.S. tabloid, according to Page Six.
Bezos, the world's richest man, wrote a detailed post on the website Medium earlier this year describing what he said was a threat by the National Enquirer's parent company to print the photos -- including a "below the belt selfie" -- unless he abandoned an investigation into how the publication obtained salacious messages it had previously published.
It's possible that the Saudi government, under scrutiny in the killing of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, hacked Bezos' accounts because it has the required technology, but there was no proof of a direct handover of photos to the Enquirer, Page Six reported.
Bezos, who completed a divorce from his wife, McKenzie, earlier this year, hired “longtime private security consultant,” Gavin de Becker, to investigate the source of the leaked texts and he determined it was politically motivated, according to the Washington Post (which Bezos owns). Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, was later accused of supplying the texts to the Enquirer.
The Enquirer's publication of them prompted speculation that it was attempting to curry favor with President Trump, who has often described critical coverage in the Post as "fake news." That could have violated an immunity deal between American Media Inc., which owned the tabloid, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.
Prosecutors there had agreed not to pursue campaign finance law violations by the company related to its payment in a "catch and kill" scheme to bury stories about Trump's relationship with an ex-Playboy model during the 2016 campaign as long as the company implemented policies to ensure it complied with the law in the future.
In Bezos' post on Medium, he said AMI threatened to publish the photos unless "I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’” The Enquirer believed it was a deal he couldn't refuse, Bezos wrote, but he decided to make its attempts public rather than going along.
AMI said in a statement at the time that it believed its actions were legal and that negotiations with Bezos were in "good faith."