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Mr Bezos, 55, hired investigators to find out how the texts were obtained and whether the story was politically motivated. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment other than to confirm that Bezos wrote the post.

Bezos says the Enquirer's parent company tried to get him to agree to a deal for the tabloid not to publish the explicit photos.

Bezos shared an AMI email regarding details of the intimate photos-one described as a "below the belt selfie - otherwise colloquially known as a "d*ck pick" - that the National Enquirer obtained during its "newsgathering". "I hope common sense can prevail - and quickly", Howard allegedly wrote. Bezos on Thursday said he directed de Becker to "prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on", and touted Amazon's business success.

It reported that Bezos sent "sleazy text messages and gushing love notes" to Sanchez, months before Bezos announced he was splitting up with his wife, MacKenzie.

This story is breaking and will be updated as more information comes in.

The Amazon chief claimed that his ownership of The Washington Post is a "complexifier" for him in the scenario and cited its critical coverage of Trump's administration and the daily's coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

AMI has admitted to playing a role in President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, paying former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 to kill her story about an alleged affair with the then-candidate.

"Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked, he thinks it's possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages", he said. In 2010 the Enquirer began running articles that encouraged the idea of a Trump presidential campaign, according to the Associated Press.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail", wrote Mr Bezos, "I've chose to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten".

American Media Inc (AMI), the owner of the National Enquirer, did not immediately return a request for comment. The deal not to prosecute was conditional on AMI not committing another crime, the office said.

The alleged blackmail attempt was in connection with pictures of Bezos with former TV host Lauren Sanchez.

In one of those emails, Fine proposed Bezos release a mutually agreed upon statement to a news outlet saying that he had no basis for suggesting AMI's coverage was politically motivated.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks during an address to attendees at Access Intelligence's SATELLITE 2017 conference in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets.

The Bezos-Enquirer tussle may be another instance where the legal questions are eclipsed by a broader battle.

This whole story, as Bezos would put it, is complexifying my brain. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn't stop our investigation. It also said the photos were newsworthy, given Bezos' prominence. Bezos' investigators have suggested the Enquirer's coverage of his affair - which included the release of risque texts - was driven by dirty politics. In the email, Howard wrote that he had evidence of 10 photographs of Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, including nude selfies.

Bezos has publicly criticized the Trump administration on numerous occasions, as has the Washington Post. "It's ripped right out of the law books".

Sounds like soon some people at The National Enquirer are going to "learn to code".


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