Michael Sanchez — who is suing American Media for defamation related to the story outing Jeff Bezos’ affair with his sister, Lauren Sanchez — believes a recent declaration by a former AMI employee proves that he was not the source of the photos.
Michael Sanchez sued AMI (now rebranded as A360 Media) last year after the National Enquirer publisher said he was the main source for its story about the Bezos affair and “provided all of the materials” for its investigation, including racy photos of Bezos. Sanchez has maintained he only confirmed the story and did not provide the photos.
Earlier this week, a declaration by Nikolaos Tzima Hatziefstathiou said that it was Patrick Whitesell — the executive chairman of Endeavor, who was married to Lauren Sanchez at the time of her affair with Bezos — who was the initial source of the story. Whitesell denied that claim.
In an exclusive statement to TheWrap, Michael Sanchez’s attorney, Tom Warren, said, “The AMI whistleblower confirmed what Michael Sanchez has always maintained — he was not AMI’s sole source, the story was already in the can before the Enquirer even reached out to him, and however AMI got its hands on the ‘below-the-belt selfie’ it used to try to blackmail Mr. Bezos, it did not come from Mr. Sanchez. We look forward to reviewing the 10 terabytes of additional evidence in the possession of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.”
In early 2019, shortly after Bezos and MacKenzie Scott announced their divorce, the National Enquirer exposed the Amazon founder’s affair with Sanchez, a TV host and helicopter pilot, based on text messages and racy photos sent between the two that it had obtained.
Bezos accused the National Enquirer of trying to blackmail him into dropping an investigation into how the tabloid obtained his personal text messages and photos with Sanchez. He hired an investigator to find out how the texts and photos found their way to the tabloid, and whether the publication was seeking revenge for reporting done by the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos.
In an essay for the Daily Beast, Bezos’ investigator, Gavin De Becker, said the result of that investigation “concluded with high confidence” that Saudi Arabia was behind the leak.