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'Boycott Uber' Trends After CEO Calls Khashoggi's Murder A 'Mistake'

Neer Varshney

Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) is facing calls for a boycott after its CEO called the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a “mistake” by the Saudi Arabian government in an interview with Axios on HBO on Sunday.

What Happened

“I think that government said that they made a mistake,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Axios in an interview, comparing the journalist’s murder to deaths from “self-driving.”

Khosrowshahi said this in a response to Axios Editor Dan Primack’s question on why the head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is part of Uber’s board. Saudi Arabia is the fifth-largest shareholder in the company.

“I think he’s been a very constructive board member ... I personally have valued his inputs greatly. It’s up to him if he wants to run for re-election,” Khosrowshahi said of the wealth fund’s governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan’s involvement as a board member.

Why It Matters

Khashoggi was a U.S. resident when he was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2018, according to National Public Radio.

Investigations conducted by the Turkish government and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the journalist’s killing, The Washington Post reported at the time.

#BoycottUber Trends On Social Media

More than 7,000 tweets had been posted with the hashtag #BoycottUber on Twitter by Monday morning, according to Newsweek.

Comedian Sean Kent said that the views expressed by Khosrowshahi “are a window into Silicon Valley’s amoral culture.”

Other users, including Washington Post opinion editor Karen Attiah and The New York Times’ Farnaz Fassihi, said they deleted the Uber app from their phone.

Khosrowshahi Backtracks

"I said something in the moment that I do not believe. When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused," Khosrowshahi told Axios in an email Monday, retracting his earlier statement. 

Uber stock closed Monday's session 0.48% higher at $27.14. 

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