Media outlets drop out of Riyadh conference over missing Saudi journalist

The New York Times, The Economist and several prominent journalists announced Wednesday they will no longer be attending the Future Investment Initiative event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, later this month, in response to the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The announcements come as pressure mounted on the Saudi Arabian government to provide answers for Khashoggi disappearance after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials believe Khashoggi, a staunch critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and his policies, was murdered inside the facility. 

“I’m terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder. I will no longer be participating in the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh,” wrote CNBC’s Aaron Ross Sorkin on Twitter.

The Economist’s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes also announced her decision to withdrawl. 

“Murdering a critic on foreign soil would be an escalation of a dismal trend,” read an editorial posted by The Economist on Thursday. 

“Unlike past Saudi royals, who allowed some debate and often sought to mediate between competing interests, Prince Muhammad rules as if only he has the answers,” the statement added. 

New Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong also announced he will not be attending in a statement provided to CNBC.

Their announcements followed the decision by the New York Times on Wednesday to pull out of cosponsoring the event.

The Washington Post was not slated to attend, but its Global Opinions editor, Karen Attiah, urged sponsors of the conference to withdraw. 

“American investors, media professionals and government officials are going to Saudi Arabia for its Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh Oct 23,” wrote Attiah. “After WaPo journalist Jamal #Khashoggi’s likely murder by KSA, these partners should WITHDRAW.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg said on Friday it had decided not to serve as a media partner for the event.
“Bloomberg will no longer serve as a media partner for the Future Investment Initiative. As we do with every major event in the region, we plan to cover any news from our regional news bureau,” said a spokesperson for the news organization.
Fox Business Network, CNBC, and CNN are also listed as media partners for the event. 

A FOX Business spokesperson and a CNBC spokesperson both told The Hill they are monitoring the situation.

“We’re evaluating our participation in the conference,” a CNN spokesperson told The Hill. 
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