Uber's CEO had compared the journalist’s killing by Saudi agents to a fatal accident during tests of his company’s self-driving cars.
Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tried Monday to retract remarks he made Sunday when he described the murder by Saudi Arabia of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a “serious mistake.”
In an interview with “Axios on HBO,” Khosrowshahi compared the journalist’s killing and dismemberment by Saudi agents inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istambul, Turkey, to a fatal accident that occurred during tests of his company’s self-driving cars.
The accident Khosrowshahi was referring to happened in March 2018 when an Uber self-driving test vehicle hit and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona.
“It’s a serious mistake. We’ve made mistakes too, with self-driving, and we stopped driving and we’re recovering from that mistake,” Khosrowshahi declared in the interview. “So I think that people make mistakes. It doesn’t mean they can never be forgiven. I think they’ve taken it seriously...”
The CEO backtracked later on Twitter saying “there’s no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi and I was wrong to call it a mistake.’”
“I said something in the moment I don’t believe. Our investors have long known my views here and I’m sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios.”
The kingdom is a major investor in Uber, owning more than ten percent of the company. Saudi investment in Uber Technologies Inc. which represents around $3.5 billion was described by Bloomberg as “the largest single investment from a foreign government to a venture-backed startup ever.”
Khashoggi’s killing shook the world in October 2018 and sparked global outrage staining the image of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The journalist who was a severe critic of the Saudi regime was a United States resident and a regular contributor to the Washington Post.
The CIA, the United Nations, and some Western governments have said they believe the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing. MBS has vigorously denied his involvement and U.S. President Donald Trump strongly defended him saying he won’t compromise his country’s relationships with the Gulf nation including important arm contracts because of the murder.