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NYT drops Saudi sponsorships in wake of Khashoggi disappearance

Khashoggi's 'murder' has sparked global outrage [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 October, 2018

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US media giant New York Times has pulled out of its role of sponsoring Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative amid the possible murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Former US media ally of the Saudi regime New York Times has pulled out of a Riyadh conference that intends to explore the different avenues Saudi Arabia can upscale its economic development, following the disappearance of a prominent journalist.

The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is scheduled to take place place between October 23 to 25 in Riyadh aims to explore the trends, opportunities and challenges shaping the global investment landscape to discover new opportunities for Saudi Arabia.

It had backing of global-multi-national organisations and the support of a range of media outlets, including New York Times, which in recent months has been lambasted for its support of the brutal Saudi regime and the “whitewashing” of the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But criticism of Saudi Arabia started to crawl from the US-based newspaper following the disappearance and presumed murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul to process the officiation of his marriage to his Turkish fiancée last week.

Over the past few days, a series of op-eds on the NYT website began to emerge, demanding for Saudi Arabia to “answer for Jamal Khashoggi” and asserting that bin Salman’s regime is in danger if it is proven that Khashoggi was murdered by the Riyadh government.

On Wednesday, NYT continued to showcase their rage against the Riyadh regime and pulled out of the FII conference, to which it was listed as a media sponsor alongside other US media organisations.

The move has left many speculating who will be next to drop out of the conference as the Saudi regime continues to face a rage of global backlash amid Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Journalism is not a crime

But while it has lost a media ally, Saudi Arabia has more crucially faced a backlash from the Washington government.

"I am concerned. I don't like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out," US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday when asked about Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

"Right now, nobody knows anything about it. There are some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it."

Vice President Mike Pence has also spoken out over the saga, saying he was "deeply troubled" about reports of Khashoggi's fate.

In March, bin Salman went on a high-profile tour of the US.

Bin Salman was warmly welcomed not only in the White House but also among influential American business and technology figures such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post, and discussed investment opportunities for the kingdom's Vision 2030 programme.

During his visit, prominent US figures and media outlets praised the young leader for his reforms in the kingdom, turning a blind eye to the rampant human rights violations in the country.

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