Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, accuses US gossip magazine of blackmail

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By Katy Dartford  with Reuters
Jeff Bezos: Amazon boss
Jeff Bezos: Amazon boss

The world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, has accused the owner of a US gossip magazine of trying to blackmail him by publishing "intimate photos" he sent to his girlfriend.

Hours after the Amazon founder and his wife divorced last month, the 'National Enquirer' released the details - including private messages, of an affair with a former TV host, Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos opened an investigation into the leak, led by longtime security consultant Gavin de Becker. De Becker told media that the leak was politically motivated.

Bezos on Thursday accused American Media Inc, the owner of the tabloid newspaper, of threatening to publish unless he said in public that the supermarket tabloid's reporting on him was not politically motivated.

"American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos," the company said in a statement.

On Friday, AMI said that at the time of Bezos' allegations it was "in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him."

"In light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary," it added.

Bezos, and the newspaper he owns privately, the Washington Post, have all been targets of attacks on Twitter by U.S. President Donald Trump.

WATCH: NBC News' Stephanie Gosk explains why this has gone much further than a “bad divorce”: