Uber CEO apologizes for calling murder of Saudi journalist Khashoggi a ‘mistake’

Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has apologized to his staff after calling the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi a “mistake” during an interview on the HBO show Axios on Sunday.

Speaking at the company’s weekly all-hands meeting on Tuesday, Khosrowshahi reportedly said it was wrong to refer to the killing, which has been blamed on the Saudi government, as a mistake and for comparing it to the death of a woman who was hit by an Uber self-driving car in 2018, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the apology.

“I am sorry for what I said during that interview,” he said. “I think some folks are right to have been outraged. All of us have to take responsibility for what we do and be accountable, so I will take that accountability as your leader.

“I don’t believe that the Khashoggi murder is something to be forgiven or forgotten, and I was plain wrong to compare it to anything that we have been through,” he added. “That was absolutely wrong.”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Khashoggi was a Saudi national and a journalist who often wrote for the Washington Post. He was murdered in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as he went to pick up a marriage certificate. According to the CIA, he was strangled by Saudi government operatives, who are suspected to have been operating at the behest of the country’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The prince later said he “bears responsibly” for Khashogghi’s death, but that he did not know about it beforehand. The case sparked an international outcry.

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is the fifth-largest shareholder in Uber , as well as one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. The head of the fund also sits on Uber’s board.

In his interview with Axios, Khosrowshahi had been asked about Saudi involvement in the company. He responded by calling Khashoggi’s murder “a mistake,” and compared it to mistakes Uber made with pursuing self-driving cars, which have been involved in numerous crashes. “I think that people make mistakes, it doesn’t mean they can never be forgiven,” he said.

Khosrowshahi had previously backtracked his comments in a written statement after the episode aired, but had not yet fully apologized. The comments caused a minor uproar and a fresh round of the #BoycottUber movement on social media.

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