Michael Sanchez, the brother of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, has slapped the publisher of the National Enquirer with a federal lawsuit claiming the outlet defamed him by naming him as the person who leaked information about the couple’s extramarital relationship, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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Michael Sanchez claimed in the lawsuit filed Friday that American Media Inc. distributed “a false and defamatory press release” in March 2019 – just months after the January 2019 article was published – identifying him as the person who first revealed the pair's relationship. He also "provided all of the materials,” AMI’s press release alleged, according to the Journal.
At the time of the bombshell story’s release, Lauren Sanchez was married to Hollywood exec Patrick Whitesell, while Bezos was still with his then-wife MacKenzie Bezos. Lauren Sanchez and Bezos allegedly met in 2017.
But Michael Sanchez, a California-based manager who once represented his sister, denied being AMI’s tipster and providing any information, such as nude photos of the billionaire Amazon founder.
The publisher’s "false and defamatory statements have, among other things, devastated Mr. Sanchez's professional career and reputation, destroyed the invaluable media relationships...and left him estranged from his own family," the suit states. The Sanchez siblings’ relationship is now reportedly nonexistent.
Sanchez further claims in the suit that AMI "plotted to dig up embarrassing information” about Bezos with the help of Saudi Arabian officials, according to the Journal.
But AMI insisted in a statement provided to FOX Business that Sanchez "sold the National Enquirer the story about his sister's secret affair and was the sole source for its reporting."
"The filing by Mr. Sanchez is his latest attempt to ignore the truth and rewrite history," a spokesperson said in the emailed statement. "His frivolous lawsuit underscores what his true motivation is, his own greed.”
Friday’s lawsuit was the latest in a string of complaints filed in the months since the National Enquirer piece was published.
In the beginning of February, Michael Sanchez sued Bezos and his private investigator for defaming Sanchez by allegedly telling reporters – sometimes through Bezos’ reps – that he was the person who sent nude photographs to the National Enquirer.
Michael Sanchez said at the time that he never even had possession of the photographs.
He was Lauren Sanchez's manager when, in 2018, his sister approached him about leaking information about the affair to TMZ as a way to avoid potential backlash and get ahead of the media, the lawsuit alleges.
Michael Sanchez said he advised Lauren Sanchez against doing so and initially denied rumors of the affair when approached by media outlets.
But he then entered a deal with the National Enquirer, in which he "agreed to corroborate the existence of the relationship under conditions that would help Mr. Sanchez manage the timing of the story and the way in which the affair was portrayed," according to the complaint.
Bezos later accused Michael Sanchez of trying to "put himself back on the front pages and extract money from Defendants by leveraging the current media environment to harass them," the tech mogul's attorney said in court papers filed shortly after the February lawsuit, the Daily Mail reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.