US publisher dismisses claim of Saudi involvement in Bezos scandal
LONDON - American Media Inc. (AMI), publishers of the National Enquirer tabloid, have reiterated their previous statements that their reports on Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ private life were based on information from a single source, the brother of Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
"Despite the false and unsubstantiated claims of Mr. de Becker, American Media has, and continues to, refute the unsubstantiated claims that the materials for our report were acquired with the help of anyone other than the single source who first brought them to us... there was no involvement by any other third party whatsoever," AMI said in a statement to CNN Business.
The statement by American Media released on March 31 comes after a report from the Daily Beast quoting Bezos’ security chief Gavin De Becker alleging that the government of Saudi Arabia had hacked the Amazon chief’s phone and accessed his private information and that it was “unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”
After Bezos was caught in a sexting scandal, courtesy of a report in The National Enquirer, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast and CNN implied that the Saudi government was somehow involved.
In a blog post in early February, Bezos, who acquired the Washington Post in 2013, said he was targeted over the Post’s coverage of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the paper, in Istanbul in October 2018.
Less than a week after the Bezos' blog entry, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir rejected the claims that the kingdom was involved in the Bezos scandal.
Al-Jubeir told CBS' "Face the Nation" March 31 that the Arab kingdom had "nothing to do with" the episode.
"Absolutely not," he said about Saudi involvement.
"This sounds to me like a soap opera," al-Jubeir added. "I've been watching it on television and reading about it in the paper. This is something between the two parties. We have nothing to do with it."
A March 18 report in the Wall St Journal said the tabloid had acquired Bezos’ personal photographs and "secrets" through his mistresses’ brother for the sum of $200,000.
“Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos and his allies have publicly speculated about how the National Enquirer acquired racy texts he sent to his girlfriend, including at one point hinting Saudi Arabia or the White House may have been involved.” the Wall St Journal reported.
“The reality is simpler: Michael Sanchez, the brother of Mr. Bezos' lover, sold the billionaire's secrets for $200,000 to the Enquirer's publisher, said people familiar with the matter,” the report added.