- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2019

National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. asked the Justice Department last year whether it should register as a foreign agent, according to a media report Monday.

A redacted letter, published by the Wall Street Journal, concluded that AMI’s activities to honor the Saudi crown prince did not qualify as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

AMI praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman with the release of a special magazine, published to coincide with a visit he made to Washington in March.

At the time, the company was trying to acquire other media brands such as Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money and seeking financial backing from Saudi Arabian investors to do so.

AMI also hired an unnamed adviser to the Saudi government to write an article for the magazine, titled “The New Kingdom,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a heavily redacted response, the Justice Department concluded AMI did not have to register as a foreign agent because its publications are “funded completely by sales and do not contain advertisements.”

The letter is signed by Heather Hunt, who heads the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act unit.

AMI is at the center of bombshell allegations by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos that the company tried to extort him with racy photos.

Mr. Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, published text messages allegedly from AMI’s lawyers accusing the company of blackmail. He also wrote that coverage of murdered reporter Jamal Khashoggi made him a target for AMI.

“The Saudi angle seems to have hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” he wrote.

AMI CEO David Pecker has denied publishing the photos of Mr. Bezos was an extortion attempt.

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