Jeff Bezos' investigator says tabloid pinned a 'kick me' sign on reported leaker Michael Sanchez to distract from alleged Saudi connection

John Sciulli/Getty Images; Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
  • Jeff Bezos’ security chief Gavin de Becker said in a bombshell article that the Saudi government had accessed the Amazon chief’s phone and gained private information from it.
  • The investigation was launched after a blackmail attempt and an exposé from The National Enquirer contained private text messages between Bezos and his new girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.
  • The publication was quick to push Sanchez’s brother Michael as the source of the leaked information, which deBecker now posits was a diversion tactic from Saudi agents.

Jeff Bezos’ security chief Gavin de Becker said in a bombshell column published Saturday that the Saudi government had access to the Amazon chief’s phone and gained private information from it. He also suggested that a widely publicized narrative surrounding the claims that The National Enquirer attempted to extort Jeff Bezos may be an effort to distract from the alleged Saudi surveillance.

De Becker wrote in The Daily Beast that he could confirm the connection after an extensive investigation that was sparked by reports targeting Bezos’ new relationship with television anchor Lauren Sanchez in a tabloid owned by American Media Inc.

Bezos’ tensions with the company reached a fever pitch in February when Bezos alleged in a widely-read Medium post that the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him by threatening to publish intimate text messages and photos and that he had launched an investigation after a January exposé on his relationship with Sanchez to find out how the paper obtained the private information in the piece.

Read more: Jeff Bezos’ security consultant accuses the Saudi government of hacking Amazon CEO’s phone, linking them to extortion attempt

The spotlight landed on Sanchez’s brother Michael in the days after Bezos’ post, who was reported to have leaked his sister’s communications with Bezos. In statements from the company and from their attorney Elkhan Ambramowitz, AMI denied any connections to the Trump administration or to Saudi Arabia, insisting there was only one source for the leaked information.

De Becker notes in his article the large-scale campaign from AMI to pin a “kick me” sign on Sanchez in the days after Bezos announced the investigation, saying that ignoring the company’s political ties was “too simple.”

“Reality is complicated, and can’t always be boiled down to a simple narrative like ‘the brother did it,’ even when that brother is a person who certainly supplied some information to a supermarket tabloid, and even when that brother is an associate of Roger Stone and Carter Page,” de Becker wrote. “Though interesting, it turns out those truths are also too simple.”

In his article, De Becker pointed to the appearance by Abramowitz on ABC as the most blatant effort to throw blame on Sanchez’s brother for the revealing materials in the January story, when he insisted that the source was “not Saudi Arabia” but a “person that was known to both Bezos and Ms. Sanchez.”

Both parties seemed to turn the heat up on Sanchez when de Becker publicly said after he had launched the investigation that Sanchez was “among the people we’ve been speaking with and looking at.”

Sanchez vehemently denied leaking the texts and hit back against de Becker after the investigator added that he believed the hacking was politically motivated.

Michael Sanchez is an avid Trump supporter and associate of Trump-linked figures including Carter Page and the recently-indicted Roger Stone.

In a written statement published in the Washington Post, Sanchez leveled up his defence, accusing de Backer of telling “lies, half-truths, sloppy tabloid leaks, [and] crazy conspiracy theories” and that his priorities are to protect his sister’s relationship with Bezos and “to clear my name by telling the truth.”

He also suggested that de Becker could share responsibility the leak in order to “sabotage Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez’s love affair,” in the midst of Bezos’ divorce from his longtime wife.

In a statement sent to the Daily Beast in response to de Becker’s article, a spokesperson for AMI dismissed the “false and unsubstantiated claims” and insisted the report was done with a “single source.”

“The fact of the matter is, it was Michael Sanchez who tipped the National Enquirer off to the affair on Sept. 10, 2018, and over the course of four months provided all of the materials for our investigation,” the statement reads. “His continued efforts to discuss and falsely represent our reporting, and his role in it, has waived any source confidentiality. There was no involvement by any other third party whatsoever.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.