Saudi Arabia denies any role in Jeff Bezos’ affair leak

A Saudi official told CNN late Tuesday that the kingdom “categorically rejects all allegations that it is involved in any fashion in the apparent dispute” between Bezos and American Media Incorporated, which publishes the tabloid. The response comes after a private investigator working for Bezos wrote an op-ed over the weekend, claiming that the kingdom had access to the billionaire’s phone and had “gained private information.”The article was the latest twist in an unfolding saga over how the relationship between Bezos and Sanchez was leaked to the National Enquirer.The private investigator, Gavin de Becker, did not offer concrete evidence supporting his allegations published in the Daily Beast. He also said that it was not clear whether AMI “was aware of the details.” The Saudi official called the allegations “a transparent attempt to damage the kingdom’s image and the reputation of its leadership.” AMI has told CNN in a statement that it relied on one source, Sanchez’s brother, Michael Sanchez, for its story about the romantic relationship. There “was no involvement by any other third party whatsoever,” AMI said. Allegations of Saudi involvement raised the stakes surrounding the National Enquirer’s tabloid exposé of the affair between Bezos — who owns the Washington Post — and Sanchez, a former anchor for Fox’s local station in Los Angeles. Bezos has implied that AMI tried to extort him to please the Saudi government — which allegedly has links to AMI and is upset about the Washington Post’s coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi — or President Donald Trump. AMI says that’s not the case. In his op-ed, de Becker wrote that he and his team spoke with current and former AMI executives and sources, Middle East intelligence experts, Saudi whistleblowers and dissidents, as well as current and former advisers to President Trump, among others, before reaching their conclusion. The National Enquirer tried to “strong-arm an American citizen whom [Saudi] leadership wanted harmed, compromised, and silenced,” according to de Becker.Both Bezos and the Washington Post have been criticized repeatedly by the president, who has his own links to AMI. Chairman David Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump’s, and the Enquirer was one of Trump’s most reliable and enthusiastic media boosters during the campaign. De Becker believes that Michael Sanchez shared the texts and photographs sent from Bezos and Lauren Sanchez with the National Enquirer. But de Becker claims that the National Enquirer knew about the messages before approaching Sanchez. Sanchez told CNN Business that AMI was already pursuing a story about the relationship when it came to him. He said that “de Becker’s latest smoke-and-mirrors distraction ” contained “zero evidence.”In its statement, AMI said that “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 spokesperson added that Sanchez’s “continued efforts to discuss and falsely represent our reporting, and his role in it, has waived any source confidentiality.”De Becker argues that the first source is the Saudi Arabian government. He said that the Saudi leadership wanted to harm Bezos because of the Washington Post’s coverage of Khashoggi’s death. Khashoggi, who had been critical of the kingdom and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in the fall. Danielle Wiener-Bronner and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.