Saudi Arabia denies involvement in ‘blackmail’ plot

Saudi Arabia denies involvement in ‘blackmail’ plot

Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs firmly denied the kingdom had anything to do with the owner of the National Enquirer threatening to publish nude pictures and salacious text messages from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

“This sounds to me like a soap opera,” Adel Al-Jubeir told Face the Nation in the US on Sunday.

“Maybe some of our citizens read the National Enquirer when they’re in the United States … but that’s it.”

According to the New York Post, Mr Bezos, the world’s richest person, blew the lid off an attempt by American Media Inc, the parent company of the National Enquirer, to threaten to release to the public selfies and messages Mr Bezos exchanged with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, with whom he was having an affair.

“Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is ‘apoplectic’ about our investigation,” Mr Bezos wrote last week in a blog post on Medium, referring to AMI CEO David Pecker.

“For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”

Mr Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post, which has been aggressively pursuing the story of Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for the newspaper and was killed in the Saudi embassy in Turkey last October.

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“This is something between the two parties,” Mr Al-Jubeir said. “We have nothing to do with it.”

The CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi.

In his posting last Thursday, Mr Bezos noted that the interests of Mr Pecker, Donald Trump and the Saudis often overlapped.

“Sometimes Mr. Pecker mixes it all together,” Mr Bezos wrote, saying Mr Trump invited Mr Pecker to a White House dinner “to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions.”

Mr Al-Jubeir said there is no link.

“As far as I am aware. And I believe I would be aware,” no one in the Saudi government or any of its employees had any contact with AMI or owner Mr Pecker.

Prosecutors in New York are investigating Mr Bezos’ claims that Mr Pecker blackmailed him and re-examining a non-prosecution deal with him.

Mr Pecker agreed to co-operate in investigations looking into hush payments made weeks before the 2016 election to a former porn star and a former Playboy model to buy their silence on allegations that Mr Trump had affairs with them.

This story was originally published in the New York Post and is reprinted with permission.

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