(Reuters) – Media companies are pulling out of a Saudi investment conference as outrage grows over the journalist who went missing inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this month.
A human rights activist holds picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
Economist Editor-In-Chief Zanny Minton Beddoes will not participate in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, spokeswoman Lauren Hackett said in an email.
Andrew Ross Sorkin, a CNBC anchor and New York Times business journalist, tweeted that he was also not attending the conference, saying he was “terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder.”
The New York Times Co (NYT.N) has also decided to pull out of the event as a media sponsor, spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said. The Financial Times said in a statement that it was reviewing its involvement as a media partner.
Viacom Inc (VIAB.O), whose Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish is slated to speak at the conference, said it was closely monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia.
Other media companies slated to appear at the conference include CNN and Bloomberg according to the event’s website.
The disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2 has cast a shadow over the three-day conference known as “Davos in the desert,” which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 23. The Post is owned by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. The event, in its sophomore year, attracts some of the world’s business elite including Wall Street’s top bosses and executives from multinational media, tech and financial services companies.
Turkish officials have alleged that Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he went to get documents for his planned marriage. Riyadh has said the claims are baseless.
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) CEO Jamie Dimon is scheduled to speak, as is Mastercard Inc (MA.N) CEO Ajay Banga. Representatives for both companies did not respond to requests for comment.
Khashoggi’s disappearance has led officials and business leaders to drop out of another one of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s large projects.
On Wednesday, former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said that he had suspended his role on the board of Saudi Arabia’s planned mega business zone NEOM until more is known about what happened.
Moniz was named on Tuesday as one of 18 people advising the $500 billion NEOM project. The Crown Prince said last week that the NEOM business zone would build two to three towns each year starting in 2020 and be completed by 2025.
Reporting by Imani Moise and Saeed Azhar; Editing by Toni Reinhold