- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2019

The CEO of Uber is backtracking after he referred to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a “mistake” made by the Saudi Arabian government.

During an interview with Axios that aired Sunday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was asked whether the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, should continue to sit on Uber’s board and hold a 5.3% stake in the company.

“I think that government said that they made a mistake,” he said. “We’ve made mistakes too, right, with self-driving, and we stopped driving, and we’re recovering from that mistake. So I think that people make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven. I think [the Saudi government] have taken it seriously.”

The “self-driving” mistake Mr. Khosrowshahi referred to was likely the autonomous test vehicles killing an Arizona pedestrian last year, who was walking a bicycle across the road at night.

Officials ruled Uber would not face criminal charges, and the testing program was temporarily halted while it was being removed from Arizona entirely.

Axios said Mr. Khosrowshahi contacted them again to clarify his statement, calling Khashoggi’s murder “reprehensible.”

“I said something in the moment that I do not believe,” the statement read. “When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”

The interview led “#BoycottUber” to trend on Twitter as the CIA’s investigation has concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the death of Khashoggi, which the Saudi government has denied.

One of the most vocal opponents was Khashoggi’s former editor, Washington Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah, who claimed he “used Uber to get around the Washington/Virginia area.”

“He didn’t have a car for a while when he went into self exile,” she tweeted. “The sick and sad irony of Uber CEO @dkhos calling his murder by the Saudi regime a ‘mistake’. That we should consider forgiveness. #BoycottUber”

“Not only is he running cover for the Saudi government by saying the pre-planned murder of a @washingtonpost writer was a ‘mistake’, he compares the murder of a human being to Uber making a tech glitch,” she tweeted.

Mr. Khashoggi was murdered last year in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and 11 people who were allegedly involved have been charged with the murder.

The crown prince took responsibility for the murders in a September PBS interview, saying it “happened under my watch.”

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