JEFF Bezos last night accused a US magazine of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing explicit nude photos of the businessman and his mistress.

In an extraordinary public statement, the Amazon billionaire said the alleged threat was an attempt to stop his investigation into how messages between himself and Lauren Sanchez were first leaked to The National Enquirer.

Intimate details of the couple's affair were published in the Enquirer last month - just hours after Bezos announced he and his wife MacKenzie were getting a divorce.

In the sensational statement released on Thursday, Bezos - the world's richest man - said the magazine's publishers AMI had attempted a campaign of "extortion and blackmail" against him.

He claimed an editor acting on the orders of AMI's ferocious chairman David Pecker had approached him with "an offer I couldnít refuse."

"Or at least thatís what the top people at the National Enquirer thought", Bezos added.

Emails apparently sent by AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard to Bezos' lawyer threatened the publication of 10 shocking snippets:

After listing the descriptions, Howard allegedly wrote: "It would give no editor pleasure to send this email.

"I hope common sense can prevail - and quickly."

Explaining his decision to publish the emails, Bezos wrote on Medium: "Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because thereís a much more important matter involved here.

"If in my position I canít stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?"

According to further emails, AMI wanted Bezos' assurance that he would end a probe into how the leaks first emerged last month.

The billionaire alleges that his investigation could expose a pro-Trump political motivation being behind the Enquirer's coverage.

It is believed that the brother of former TV news anchor Sanchez may have gained access to the couple's private messages.

Ms Sanchez's brother Michael - thought to be a Trump supporter - is then alleged to have potentially passed the texts and pics on to the National Enquirer to discredit Bezos.

President Trump has often vocally criticised Bezos - who also owns the Washington Post newspaper.

And AMI has admitted that it engaged in what's known as "catch-and-kill" practices to help Trump become president.

That admission was part of a deal between AMI and federal prosecutors.

They agreed to not pursue charges against the company for secretly assisting Trump's campaign by paying $150,000 to a Playboy model for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with the then-candidate.

The company then intentionally suppressed the story until after the election.

Explaining his decision to speak out, Mr Bezos said: "Of course I donít want personal photos published, but I also wonít participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks and corruption.

"I prefer to stand up, roll this log over and see what crawls out.Ē

Publishing the shocking emails, Bezos added: "Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words below."

AMI, also known as American Media Inc, has not commented on the allegations.

Responding to previous allegations of political motivations affecting coverage, AMI said: ďAmerican Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.Ē