Friday, 06 December, 2019


Uber CEO downplays murder of Jamal Khashoggi as 'mistake,' then backtracks

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi Bloomberg via Getty Images
Conrad Doyle | 11 November, 2019, 22:23

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in an interview on the television show Axios on HBO that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "a mistake" by the Saudi Arabian government, and compared it to Uber's accident with a self-driving auto that killed a woman.

In an interview with Axios which aired Sunday, Khosrowshahi echoed those comments, saying "I think that government said that they made a mistake".

"We've made mistakes too, right, with self-driving, and we stopped driving and we're recovering from that mistake", Khosrowshahi said.

He was referring to Uber's self-driving cars, one of which struck and killed a woman in 2018 when it "failed" to identify her as a pedestrian.

Officials with the USA and the United Nations suspect that Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a role in Khashoggi's slaying.

"People make mistakes. It doesn't mean they can never be forgiven", Khosrowshahi said.

Saudi Arabia is Uber's fifth-largest shareholder, and the head of the country's sovereign wealth fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, is sitting on Uber's board.

Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey and reportedly dismembered.

The remarks came during a discussion with Axios co-founder Mike Allen about Uber's relationship with Saudi Arabia, one of the company's largest investors.

Uber has run into controversy recently, with a number of accidents caused by its self-driving test vehicles. Prince Mohammed has said he takes full responsibility but denied ordering the killing, calling the slaying "a mistake" in an interview in September.

Allen noted that Uber pulled out of a 2018 Saudi conference shortly after Khashoggi's death, and that it didn't attend this year's conference either.

Axios said that following the interview, Khosrowshahi contacted the reporters to "express regret" for the language he had used in the interview, and sent them an a follow-up statement. "When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused", Khosrowshahi said in his statement.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pictured, was last seen alive in October 2018, when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect papers he needed to marry Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish citizen. Saudi Arabia has described it as a rogue operation that did not involve the crown prince.

"From a Saudi perspective, they're just like any other shareholder ... they're a big investor, just like you could be a big investor". "Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn't as clear on Axios".

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi speaks to the media at an event in New Delhi.

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