WSJ: Prosecutors obtain evidence linking leaked Bezos texts to girlfriend's family member

WSJ: Prosecutors obtain evidence linking leaked Bezos texts to girlfriend's family member
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Federal prosecutors have reportedly obtained evidence linking leaked text messages from Amazon founder Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosTwitter mandates lawmakers, journalists to beef up passwords heading into election Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts Chinese, Malaysian hackers accused of targeting over 100 organizations | GOP senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal | QAnon awareness jumps in new poll Amazon planning small delivery hubs in suburbs MORE to his girlfriend’s brother.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that prosecutors now have evidence indicating that Bezos's girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, gave the text messages to her brother, Michael Sanchez, which he then sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars to the National Enquirer.

The text messages are reportedly part of the materials being reviewed by federal prosecutors who are investigating whether American Media Inc. (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer, tried to extort Bezos. Federal prosecutors have also investigated whether Bezos’s phone was hacked, the newspaper reported.

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The Enquirer published a story in early 2019 quoting a text between Bezos and his girlfriend that included a flirtatious message. Bezos was married at the time the text was sent. 

Bezos later accused the Enquirer and its parent company of attempting to blackmail him using revealing text messages and photos prior to publishing the story. AMI denied the allegations.

The Journal reported last year citing people familiar with the matter that Michael Sanchez had sold the text messages to the Enquirer for $200,000.

Sanchez pushed back on the Journal's story Friday, saying in an email statement to the paper: "With spoon-fed lies and half-truths, Wall Street Journal keeps getting it wrong."

Lauren Sanchez didn't comment for the report. Bezos's attorney declined to comment.

No one has been charged with a crime in connection to the probe, the newspaper noted.

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The story comes days after reports emerged that a forensics audit commissioned on behalf of Bezos claimed that the CEO's phone was hacked after he was sent a file from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s WhatsApp account.

Two United Nations experts this week connected the hacking of Bezos’s phone with coverage of Saudi Arabia's involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist who was critical of Riyadh and wrote for The Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

The UN experts said they had “medium to high” confidence that the device was infiltrated in March 2018 through an MP4 file sent from the crown prince's account to Bezos and called for further investigation.

Saudi Arabia has denied the hacking.

“Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos' phone are absurd,” the Saudi embassy in Washington said in a statement. “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.