United States prosecutors have obtained evidence indicating that Jeff Bezos' girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, sent her brother text messages that were laterpublished in the National Enquirer in its story about their affair, according to the Wall Street Journal. (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer, tried to extort Bezos.
The Journal reported past year citing people familiar with the matter that Michael Sanchez had sold the text messages to the Enquirer for $200,000.
Bezos later accused the Enquirer and its parent company of attempting to blackmail him using revealing text messages and photos prior to publishing the story. The National Enquirer then reportedly also used the personal chats for its article about Bezos' extramarital affair which was published past year.
Those allegations resurfaced earlier this week when media outlets, including CNN Business, reported that a forensics team hired by Bezos had concluded that the CEO's mobile phone had been compromised and that the hack originated from an account controlled by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Michael Sanchez told the Journal in an emailed statement: 'With spoon-fed lies and half-truths, Wall Street Journal keeps getting it wrong'.
Included in the tabloid's exposé was a quote from the Bezos text message that the Journal says Lauren Sanchez had sent to her brother in May 2018. The U.S. attorney's office has also been investigating whether Mr. Bezos' phone was hacked, according to the people.
No one has been charged with a crime in connection to the probe, the newspaper noted. The alleged involvement of Saudi Crown Prince and his inner circle in the hacking of The Washington Post owner's phone might open a can of worms as the incident was followed by the revelation of Bezos' extramarital affairs and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Post's columnist. "Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information", Gavin de Becker, a security consultant hired by Bezos, wrote in an opinion piece published by the Daily Beast in March 2019.
Saudi Arabia denies hacking Bezos' phone. The digital forensics team is investigating the incident and, as reported by the USA daily, large amounts of data were exfiltrated after the privacy breach.