'Mistake': Uber CEO equates brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi with accidents involving self-driving cars

'Mistake': Uber CEO equates brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi with accidents involving self-driving cars
The Uber CEO said he thought Saudi Arabia had taken the murder 'seriously'.
3 min read
11 November, 2019
'We've made mistakes too,' the Uber chief said [Getty]
The CEO of ride-sharing app Uber has called the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi a "mistake", likening the brutal murder to "mistakes" made with self-driving cars.

Saudi Arabia is Uber's fifth-largest shareholder, while the head of the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, is a member of the company's board.

Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi has faced outrage over the comments made in an interview with "Axios on HBO" aired on Sunday.

"Listen, it's a serious mistake. We've made mistakes too," Khosrowshahi said of the Saudi journalist's murder in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate last year.

He went on to compare the "mistake" to a deadly crash involving one of Uber's self-driving test vehicles last year. One of the cars struck and killed a pedestrian. 

"We stopped driving, and we're recovering from that mistake. So I think that people make mistakes and it doesn't mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they've taken it seriously," he said.

Khashoggi, a former royal insider-turned-critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was brutally killed and dismembered by Saudi agents in what a United Nations expert has termed a "deliberate, premeditated execution".

The UN and the CIA have since said it is highly probable the journalist's murder was ordered by the crown prince, who in September took "full responsibility" but denied having prior knowledge of the killing.

Saudi Arabia is Uber's fifth-largest shareholder and the chief of the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund is on the ride-sharing app's board of directors.

Axios reported that the Uber CEO later called to voice his regret for the comments.

"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," he said.

Khosrowshahi's initial comments mirrored those made just days earlier by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Asked about the streaming giant's decision to take down an episode of a comedy show critical of Saudi Arabia, Hastings said: "We're not in the news business. We're not trying to do 'truth to power'. We're trying to entertain.

"We can pick fights with governments about newsy topics, or we can say, because the Saudi government lets us have us shows like "Sex Education", that show a very liberal lifestyle, and show very provocative and important topics... we can accomplish a lot more by being entertainment, and influencing a global conversation about how people live, than trying to be another news channel."

Netflix removed an episode of Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj's "Patriot Act" in the kingdom early this year after an official Saudi complaint was raised.

In that episode, Minhaj made jibes at the crown prince for allegedly ordering the assassination of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year and leading the brutal war in Yemen.

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