Google Boycotts Saudi Conference Over Missing Journalist

Long list of banking executives also pull out of Saudi investment conference

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he's being greeted by the French prime minister in Paris, April 9, 2018.
Francois Mori / AP

Alphabet Inc's Google on Monday became the latest company to say it would boycott a business conference in Saudi Arabia, after the disappearance of prominentSaudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

Google said in a statement that Google Cloud Chief Executive Diane Greene would not attend the Future Investment Initiative Summit to be held in Riyadh starting Oct. 23.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, Washington Post columnist and leading critic of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get marriage documents.

Since news of his disappearance, many American companies, including Uber, Viacom and Ford, have pulled out of the three-day conference, known as "Davos in the Desert.

The chief executives of HSBC , Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse have pulled out of the high profile conference.

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"John Flint will no longer attend Future Investment Initiative," a spokeswoman for HSBC told Reuters. StanChart Chief Executive Bill Winters would also not attend, a bank spokesman said.

Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of Credit Suisse , has likewise dropped plans to travel to the Oct 23-25 event amidst uproar over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

The moves follow similar decisions by JP Morgan & Chase Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink - the first senior bankers to boycott the conference in response to a backlash against the world's top oil exporter.

Executives from the media and technology industries had already withdrawn from the event after the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist critical of Riyadh's policies disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey believes he was murdered and his body removed. Saudi Arabia has so far denied that, but American news outlets have reported the country is now preparing to acknowledge Khashoggi's death in a botched interrogation.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday to discuss the case, which has strained U.S. ties with Riyadh, carefully cultivated by President Donald Trump. Trump has speculated "rogue killers" may be responsible