The disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has led to a number of tech companies, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, pulling out of a Saudi Public Investment Fund conference scheduled for later this month. And several (including Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, and Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Alphabet unit Sidewalk Labs) have cut ties to the Saudi Arabia’s Neom smart city project after being named as advisors, CNBC reports.
But so far, Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos has been silent on the matter, which is curious when you consider some of the especially gruesome details emerging around the story. Turkish officials have reportedly said they have recordings indicating that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when he traveled there on routine business.
Asked about Bezos’s silence on the matter, a Washington Post spokesperson told Fast Company that, “Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan and Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt are the two speaking on behalf of the company at this time.”
Bezos was among a number of tech executives who met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he visited the United States in March. What’s more, Amazon has reportedly been in talks to open data centers in Saudi Arabia, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.
Saudi Arabia has become a major tech backer in recent years, investing significant funds in companies like Uber, Tesla, and WeWork and contributing billions of dollars to SoftBank’s Vision Fund as it looks to move its economy beyond oil. That puts Silicon Valley in a sensitive position in responding to Khashoggi’s disappearance. And Bezos, who owns the newspaper where Khashoggi wrote, is in a doubly sensitive position.