As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez continue to globe-trot, federal prosecutors in New York have assembled evidence that she shared texts with her brother detailing their affair, which he then turned around and sold to the National Enquirer, The Wall Street Journal reported after reviewing the texts.
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Bezos alleged the tabloid, owned by American Media, had attempted to blackmail him over the affair, threatening to release sexual photos and exchanges with Sanchez. Instead, Bezos went public in a post on Medium titled ‘No thank you, Mr. Pecker’ a reference to AMI CEO David Pecker.
“I was made an offer I couldn't refuse," Bezos wrote at the time. "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."
Prosecutors have been investigating whether American Media Inc. had attempted to extort Bezos, the Journal reported. Officials have also been looking into whether Bezos’ phone had been hacked, possibly at the behest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi government has denied any involvement.
But the text quoted in a January 2019 Enquirer article about Bezos’ affair with Lauren Sanchez had been sent from her phone to her brother’s phone on July 3, 2018, according to the Journal.
Michael Sanchez received a $200,000 payment from the Enquirer under a contract dated October 2018, according to the report. The contract gave the company exclusive rights to “certain information, photographs, and text messages documenting an affair between Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez” that he claimed to have obtained lawfully.
American Media Inc. told the Journal in a statement that Michael Sanchez had provided all the material and information to its reporters in September 2018 and that Saudi Arabia was not involved.
Michael Sanchez told the Journal that it “keeps getting it wrong,” declining to comment on the texts or contract, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Bezos, the wealthiest person in the world, has been spotted publicly with Lauren Sanchez as recently as this week during a trip to India.
United Nations human rights officials reignited speculation about Saudi involvement earlier this week when they asked for an investigation into whether Bezos’ phone had been hacked. Bezos responded by tweeting a photo of himself mourning the late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi government who was killed by Saudi agents last year.
Gavin De Becker, who Bezos hired to investigate the leak and possible phone hack, has previously alleged that there is a relationship between the crown prince and Pecker.
However, Page Six reported in October that federal prosecutors had found no evidence directly linking Saudi Arabia to the leak.