PROS­E­CU­TORS IN­VES­TI­GAT­ING EN­QUIRER AFTER BE­ZOS CLAIM

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION - Agen­cies let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

NEW YORK: The Na­tional En­quirer’s al­leged at­tempt to black­mail Ama­zon CEO Jeff Be­zos with in­ti­mate photos could get the tabloid’s par­ent com­pany and top ed­i­tors in deep le­gal trou­ble and re­open them to pros­e­cu­tion for pay­ing hush money to a Play­boy model who claimed she had an af­fair with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors are look­ing at whether the En­quirer’s feud with Be­zos vi­o­lated a co­op­er­a­tion and non-pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment that re­cently spared the gos­sip sheet from charges in the hush-money case, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told AP on Fri­day.

The clash be­tween the world’s rich­est man and Amer­ica’s most ag­gres­sive tabloid spilled into pub­lic view late on Thurs­day when Be­zos ac­cused it of threat­en­ing to print photos of him and a woman with whom he was hav­ing an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair.

He said the En­quirer made two de­mands - stop in­ves­ti­gat­ing how the pub­li­ca­tion ob­tained pri­vate mes­sages that Be­zos and his girl­friend had ex­changed; and de­clare that the En­quirer’s cov­er­age of Be­zos was not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

En­quirer owner Amer­i­can Me­dia Inc said on Fri­day its board or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Ear­lier in the day, the com­pany said it “acted law­fully” while re­port­ing the story and en­gaged in “good­faith ne­go­ti­a­tions” with Be­zos.

In re­cent months, the Trumpfriendly tabloid ac­knowl­edged as­sist­ing Trump’s White House cam­paign by pay­ing Play­boy cen­tre­fold Karen Mcdou­gal for the rights to her story about an al­leged af­fair with the US pres­i­dent.

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