- Jeff Bezos in a court filing Monday accused Michael Sanchez, the brother of his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, of extortion.
- According to The Daily Beast, which reviewed the filing made in California, Bezos and his legal team claim that Sanchez is “leveraging the current media environment to harass” Bezos and Sanchez’s sister for financial gain.
- The motion follows a defamation lawsuit from Sanchez on Friday in which he claimed Bezos falsely told journalists that Sanchez provided nude photos of Bezos to the National Enquirer.
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Jeff Bezos in a court filing Monday accused Michael Sanchez, the brother of his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, of extorting him via a defamation suit dealing with leaked nude photos of Bezos sent to the National Inquirer.
It is an escalation of a legal battle that centres on who sent the pictures to the outlet. Sanchez says Bezos defamed him by blaming the leak on him. Bezos says that accusation is itself attempted extortion.
According to The Daily Beast, which reviewed the filing made in California, Bezos and his legal team say Sanchez is abusing the legal system to lure the tech billionaire into an expensive dispute.
“Extortion rears its head again in this lawsuit, this time not only aimed at Defendants but also directly threatening speech protected under the First Amendment,” William Isaacson, Bezos’ attorney, wrote in the filing, according to The Beast.
According to The Beast, Bezos’ motion seeks to dismiss Sanchez’s lawsuit under a California law meant to take action against frivolous lawsuits.
Sanchez on Friday brought a lawsuit that contained allegations against Bezos and a security consultant Bezos hired to investigate his phone after the photos were leaked to the National Enquirer.
That filing said Bezos falsely told journalists that Sanchez provided nude photos of Bezos to the Enquirer. Sanchez maintains that he was not the source of the photos.
Bezos’ team began investigating his phone in January 2019 after the Enquirer published a story about his relationship with Lauren Sanchez. He and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, announced their divorce not long after.
After the Enquirer story was published, Bezos accused the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., of blackmailing him by threatening to publish his nude images.
In his filing, Isaacson, the Bezos lawyer, wrote: “By filing this lawsuit, Mr. Sanchez hopes to put himself back on the front pages and extract money from Defendants by leveraging the current media environment to harass them.”
Last month, The New York Times reported that intimate messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez came into the possession of the Enquirer via her brother.
According to the newspaper, Lauren Sanchez sent the messages, including photos, to her brother, who received signed a $US200,000 contract granting the Enquirer’s parent company exclusive rights to them.
The Enquirer has maintained that its source of the messages was Michael Sanchez, but Bezos hired a private investigator, Gavin de Becker, to dig deeper.
In exchanges with Business Insider last year, Michael Sanchez repeatedly denied sharing “penis photos” with AMI but evaded answering questions about whether he had leaked messages obtained by the Enquirer.