Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the review, said the office of the U.S. attorney in Manhattan is reviewing Bezos’s accusations to determine whether AMI’s conduct regarding his photographs amounts to a violation of the terms of that agreement. It’s unclear how long such a review might take. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment…

Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in Chicago, said prosecutors would want to see the entire conversation between the two sides, but said AMI’s demands could amount to a violation of the Hobbs Act, the federal law against extortion.

“You can’t use extortion to get anything of value from someone else, even if you feel that the thing you are getting is something to which you are legally entitled,” Cotter said. As an example, Cotter said it would be extortion for an employee who is owed back pay to threaten to burn down his boss’s house unless he is paid.