Fox Business Network pulls out of Saudi summit amid Khashoggi crisis

Fox Business Network pulls out of Saudi summit amid Khashoggi crisis
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Fox Business Network is withdrawing from an upcoming investment summit in Saudi Arabia, becoming the latest media organization to do so in the wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“FOX Business Network has canceled its sponsorship and participation in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia. We continue to seek an interview with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman," the network said in a statement to The Hill.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen residing in the U.S., went missing earlier in October after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials have said he was murdered inside the building, and reports have linked his alleged killer to the crown prince. His death has not yet been confirmed.

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Several other media organizations, including The New York Times, Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC and The Financial Times, have also pulled out of the conference in recent days. A range of other organizations and corporate executives have done the same.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks Lawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks MORE announced Thursday that he also won't attend the conference after days of speculation. 

Journalists and other members of the media also made clear their intentions not to attend the conference.

"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," CNBC's Aaron Ross Sorkin wrote on Twitter.

Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor in chief of The Economist, also announced her decision to pull out of the conference.

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An editorial posted by The Economist  last week read, "Murdering a critic on foreign soil would be an escalation of a dismal trend."

"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 editorial continued.

The Washington Post was not slated to attend, but has been outspoken since Khashoggi was reported missing on Oct. 2. Khashoggi was a columnist for the paper, who wrote frequently about freedom of expression in the Mideast.

The Post's Global Opinions editor, Karen Attiah, strongly urged sponsors of the conference to withdraw last week.

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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE weighed in again Thursday afternoon, saying it "certainly looks" to him like Khashoggi is dead, adding "It's very sad."

The president, who has been criticized for not being tough enough on the Saudi government, also told reporters Thursday that consequences will have to be "very severe."

Trump's comments came hours after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would pull out of the Riyadh summit.

Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish officials say they have audio proving the journalist was killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives shortly after entering the consulate. 

Trump, initially, had backed away from speculating on whether Khashoggi was dead, while repeating denials from Saudi leaders that they were responsible for his disappearance.

-- Updated 4:14 p.m.