Uber CEO walks back comment on Jamal Khashoggi's murder

Dara Khosrowshahi wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera Dara Khosrowshahi chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc. listens during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York U.S. on Wednesday Sept. 26 2018

Uber's chief executive has backtracked after dismissing the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents as a "mistake". "I think they've taken it seriously", Khosrowshahi told "Axios on HBO" in an interview aired on Sunday. "We've made mistakes, too, with self-driving [vehicles], and we stopped driving and we're recovering from that mistake", Khosrowshahi said.

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

Saudi officials claimed he was murdered in a "rogue operation" carried about by a team of agents, while others - including Turkish officials and the Central Intelligence Agency - said the agents acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. ".People make mistakes. It doesn't mean that they can never be forgiven".

Primack also asked about Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund who sits on Uber's board of directors.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national resident in the United States, and a severe critic of the Saudi regime who wrote for the Washington Post, was murdered in Istanbul a year ago after visiting the Saudi Arabian consulate there. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied ordering Khashoggi's murder.

Saudi Arabia has sought to ingratiate itself to USA technology firms, taking stakes in some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, including Uber. Last year, Khosrowshahi did not attend because of the ongoing investigation into Khashoggi's killing.

The comments saw #BoycottUber trending on Twitter by Monday morning and the company's share price drop slightly. He then compared it to a fatal accident involving one of Uber's self-driving cars. He tweeted: "I said something in the moment that I do not believe. We're a public company".

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He called Khashoggi's murder "reprehensible" and said it "should not be forgotten".

Global Opinions editor at The Washington Post Karen Attiah, who is now on leave, said: 'Uber's CEO is showing us what moral bankruptcy looks like in real time.

Despite credible evidence which ties the Saudi government to the murder, numerous businesses and officials who distanced themselves from Saudi Arabia past year have since made amends.

He said at the time: 'I'm very troubled by the reports to date about Jamal Khashoggi.

He has since set up a new company, CloudKitchens, which runs kitchens that specifically cater to food delivery apps and recently raised $400m from Saudi Arabia.

But when probed by Axios if he would have gone if the two had not clashed Khosrowshahi replied: 'I don't know if I would have'. The sick and sad irony of Uber CEO [Dara Khosrowshahi] calling his murder by the Saudi regime a "mistake".

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