Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi apologized on Monday after he said in an interview that the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in which Riyadh admitted responsibility, was a “mistake”.
“There’s no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” Khosrowshahi tweeted Monday morning to explain his remarks from the day before in an interview with Axios.
“I said something in the moment I don’t believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I’m sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios, “explained the boss of the group.
There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” As I told @danprimack after our interview, I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios https://t.co/RxapzktrXq
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) November 11, 2019
Saudi Arabia, through its sovereign investment fund, is the fifth-largest shareholder in the chauffeur-driven car rental and the fund’s governor, Yasir al-Rumayyan, sits on its board of directors.
Uber’s bosses’ statements provoked an uproar in the United States, where Khashoggi was collaborating with the Washington Post and his brutal assassination had sparked harsh criticism of Saudi power, including in Congress.
“I think the (Saudi) government said it made a mistake,” Khosrowshahi said on Sunday, before embarking on a haphazard comparison.
“This is a serious mistake, but we too have made mistakes in the automatic driving and we are recovering from this error,” he added, referring to an incident in which a driverless ‘Uber had accidentally killed a pedestrian in March 2018.
Taken aback, the Axios journalist questioned the CEO about this comparison between an accident and an assassination. “I think people make mistakes and that does not mean you can never forgive them. I think they took this (Saudi power) seriously,” said Khosrowshahi.
“The Saudis are like any shareholder. Since we are now publicly traded, anyone can invest. And they are a big investor, as you could be,” he told the reporter again.
Uber's CEO told #AxiosonHBO that Jamal Khashoggi's murder was "a mistake" by the Saudi government, and then compared it to Uber's self-driving accident in which a woman died.
An hour later, he backtracked. pic.twitter.com/b82qu6Vri5
— Axios (@axios) November 11, 2019
Uber’s IPO is a fiasco from the point of view of shareholders. Introduced at $ 42, the title finished Monday at $ 27.14.
Karen Attiah, a writer and colleague of Jamal Khashoggi at the Washington Post, was outraged by Uber’s boss, recalling that the Saudi journalist was moving into Uber when he had voluntarily exiled to the United States. “What a terrible irony we must consider forgiveness,” said Karen Attiah, before concluding a series of tweets with the #BoycottUber hashtag on Twitter.
Documents filed Friday with the Stock Exchange Constable have also shown that Uber’s co-founder and former boss, Travis Kalanick, recently sold 21% of his stake in the company for some $547 million.