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Saudi Arabia conference site hacked with disturbing image of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Anthony Cuthbertson

Hackers have hijacked the website of a major conference in Saudi Arabia and placed an image of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi on its homepage.

The conference, dubbed “Davos in the Desert”, is due to take place this week in Riyadh but has been overshadowed by the withdrawal of several high-profile attendees over the murder of the Saudi dissident.

The second annual Future Investment Initiative conference has billed itself as “a blueprint for the 22nd century” that is bringing together “the world’s most visionary and influential leaders in business, government and civil society”.

However, the site was taken over by hackers on Monday to show an image depicting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman beheading Khashoggi.

Screenshots of the hack were captured by journalists and analysts and shared on social media

Screenshots of the hacked website show the message: “Saudi regime is one of the sources for #Terrorism_Financing in the world.”

Figures at the bottom of the hacked page claim that Saudi Arabia’s support of “17+” terrorist groups has led to the deaths of more than 42,000 people in Yemen and 89,000 civilians in Syria.

“For the sake of security for children worldwide, we urge all countries to put sanctions on the Saudi regime,” the message stated.

“The regime, aligned with the United States, must be kept responsible for its barbaric and inhuman action, such as killing its own citizen Jamal Khashoggi and thousands of innocent people in Yemen. The medieval Saudi regime is one of the sources of #Terrorism_Financing in the world.”

The Future Investment Initiative website was down at the time of publication and a spokesperson for the conference did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information also did not respond.

In recent weeks several high-profile attendees pulled out of the event, including UK trade secretary Liam Fox and US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“The secretary of state for international trade has decided the time is not right for him to attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on 23 October,” a spokesperson from Dr Fox’s department said last week.

“The UK remains very concerned about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. We encourage Turkish-Saudi collaboration and look forward to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducting a thorough, credible, transparent and prompt investigation, as announced. Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.”