Uber CEO compares Jamal Khashoggi's murder to his company's own 'mistakes'

Brendan Morrow

The CEO of Uber is backtracking after suggesting the vicious murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was simply a "mistake" on Saudi Arabia's part.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in an interview with Axios was asked whether the head of the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund should remain on Uber's board in light of the murder of Khashoggi, the critical journalist who in 2018 was killed by Saudi agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination. But Khosrowshahi downplayed the killing as simply a "mistake."

"That government said that they made a mistake," he said. "...People make mistakes. It doesn't mean that they can never be forgiven."

Khosrowshahi compared Saudi Arabia's "mistakes" to those Uber has made with self-driving cars; last year, an autonomous Uber vehicle hit and killed a woman in Arizona.

"We've made mistakes, too," Khosrowshahi told Axios.

When the reporter pushed back, noting that the CIA didn't find that Saudi Arabia simply made a mistake but that its crown prince ordered an assassination, Khosrowshahi responded, "I didn't read that part of the CIA report." Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied ordering Khashoggi's murder.

After the interview was conducted, Khosrowshahi seemed to realize he himself made a mistake, attempting to walk back the comments in a statement to Axios. "I said something in the moment that I do not believe," Khosrowshahi said. "When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused."

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