Uber CEO backtracks after trivializing Khashoggi killings as a Saudi 'mistake'

Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber Technologies Inc., was forced to quickly trace back after calling the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi a "mistake" and comparing it to a fatal crash of one of the company's self-driving cars . [19659002] In an interview aired on Sunday "Axios on HBO," Khosrowshahi said that the death of Khashoggi – an American resident who was killed and dismantled in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last fall on orders from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman , The CIA and a Senate panel have concluded – "was a serious mistake."

"We also made mistakes, right? With self-driving, we stopped driving and we recovered from that mistake. I think people make mistakes, that doesn't mean they can never forgive. I think they have taken it seriously, "he said.

" The CIA suggested that the Crown Prince had a role in ordering an assault. That's another thing, you didn't intentionally drive anyone, "replied Axios reporter Dan Primack.

An Uber

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self-propelled vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year, and a NTSB report last week found that the vehicle's system failed to recognize a pedestrian who was not in a crosswalk, which led some to question why it was approved for public road in the first place.

Axios said Khosrowshahi called back an hour after the interview and expressed regret for what he said, sending a statement the following day: "I said something at the moment that I don't believe. As far as Jamal Khashoggi was concerned, his killing was and should not be forgotten or excused. "

Axios had asked Khosrowshahi about his attendance at the Saudi summit with the nickname" Davos in the Desert. "And the company's close financial ties to the kingdom. Last year, Khosrowshahi did not participate because of the ongoing investigation This year, he did not attend either – not because of Khashoggi, but because of what he said was a board meeting that happened to be scheduled "years ahead" that he could not miss or plan. he did not know if he would have participated if there had been no timing conflict.

Read: Netflix CEO defends censorship sentence in Saudi Arabia: & # 39; We are not in the truth-to-power business & # 39;

While a number of leaders and world leaders skipped last year's summit over the Khashoggi killing, most returned this year, including Blackstone Group Inc.

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CEO Stephen Schwarzman, BlackRock Inc.

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President Larry Fink and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is Uber's fifth largest investor, and the fund's CEO, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, sits on Uber's board.

"I think, from a Saudi perspective, they are like all other shareholders," Khosrowshahi told Axios. "Now we are a public company, anyone can invest in our company … they are a great investor, just as you can be a great investor as well."

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