In a new interview with Axios, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi described Saudi Arabia’s assassination of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi as a “mistake,” likening it to his company’s misfires with self-driving cars.
“I think that government said they made a mistake,” he said when asked whether Yasir Al-Rumayyan — who runs Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — should be sitting on Uber’s board given the nation’s role in the murder of a U.S. journalist. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is Uber’s fifth-largest shareholder.
“It’s a serious mistake,” Khosrowshahi continued. “We’ve made mistakes, too, with self-driving. We’ve stopped [self-]driving and we’re recovering from that mistake. I think people make mistakes. It doesn’t mean they can never be forgiven. They’ve taken it seriously.”
.@Uber CEO @dkhos discusses his decision to stay out of Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamaal Khashoggi with @Axios co-founder @MikeAllen and Axios business editor @DanPrimack. pic.twitter.com/hvU9LUZPsD
— HBO Documentaries (@HBODocs) November 10, 2019
When Dan Primack of Axios responded by noting that the U.S. intelligence community suggested that Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had a role in ordering an assassination, Khosrowshahi said he “didn’t read that part of the CIA report.”
After the interview went live, Khosrowshahi released a statement clarifying his comments. “I said something in the moment that I do not believe,” he said. “When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”
Unaddressed by Axios or Khosrowshahi was Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen, in which at least 85,000 children under the age of five have died of starvation.