Saudi Envoy Says Kingdom Isn’t Involved in Bezos-AMI Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- A Saudi Arabian envoy, Adel al-Jubeir, said the kingdom was not involved in a fight between American Media Inc. and Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, who claimed Thursday that the publisher of the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him with embarrassing photos.

“I doubt it. I doubt it. We don’t have any dealings with -- as far as I know, flat no,” al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, told reporters Friday when asked whether the kingdom was involved in the spat. He made the remarks during a news conference at the Saudi embassy in Washington.

“It’s a soap opera. It’s a soap opera,” he said of Bezos’s blackmail claim.

Bezos has been embroiled in a fight with American Media since the company’s premier tabloid published text messages last month between the Amazon chief executive and Lauren Sanchez, exposing their relationship just after Bezos and his wife of 25 years announced plans to divorce.

The Amazon chief and Washington Post owner described the alleged blackmail attempt in a Medium blog post on Thursday, including emails he said were exchanged between his lawyer and American Media executives.

Bezos, 55, hired investigators last month to find out how the Enquirer obtained his texts and whether the story was politically motivated. In the blog post, he said the Post’s coverage of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder -- a columnist for the newspaper who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year -- “is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.”

He cited various media reports of links between American Media’s CEO David Pecker and Saudi Arabia in the blog post.

“Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is ‘apoplectic’ about our investigation,” Bezos wrote. “For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”

American Media said in a statement Friday that it believes it acted lawfully in reporting the story of Bezos and his extramarital affair, but that it will investigate the CEO’s blackmail and extortion claims.

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