Prosecutors to meet with Bezos in extortion probe | AP business

Kenny Grant
April 14, 2019

The tabloid's parent company has had business dealings with Saudi Arabia.

He accused of threatening to publish explicit photographs of him unless he stopped exploring his messages were acquired by the Enquirer together with Sanchez, the tabloid's writer.

AMI has defended its reporting on Bezos' affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor.

"Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information", de Becker wrote in an opinion article in the Daily Beast.

He said his inquiry "included a broad array of resources", including discussions with Saudi dissidents and whistleblowers and "people who personally know" Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The open letter came after hundreds of Amazon workers called previous year on the company to stop selling its facial-recognition software to the US government for fears of the tools being used to violate people's rights.

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The Bezos attack also threatened to upend American Media's non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors.

At the time, Bezos said, the company wanted him to deny AMI had any political motivations behind its coverage of him. Bezos questioned in a blog post whether the tabloid's motivations were political, due to his fraught relationship with Trump. The company said neither the Saudi crown prince nor his representatives had asked for the publication to be produced, that it was made exclusively based on a business decision, and that no foreign funding was involved. That pay hike was not universally praised by all workers, who said the company cut two employee benefits as well: monthly bonuses and the chance to own some of Amazon's sky-rocketing stock.

Last year, AMI cooperated with federal prosecutors to avoid charges and admitted it made a $150,000 hush-money payment to a former Playboy magazine model to prevent her from going public ahead of the 2016 election with claims that she had an affair with Trump.

An attorney for AMI CEO David Pecker, Elkan Abramowitz, said in February that the source for the tabloid's story was "not Saudi Arabia".

In August, the United States attorney's office in Manhattan agreed not to prosecute American Media in exchange for the company's cooperation in its investigation of campaign violations.

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