Amazon's $1 bn deal with Saudi stalled after Khashoggi's killing: Report

A $1 billion deal to build Amazon data centres in Saudi Arabia appears to have stalled, following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post reported.

After Khashoggi's killing in Istanbul last year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Post, became the target of waves of criticism from Saudi-based online trolls, said the report on Sunday.

"No data centers are under construction. Amazon officials say there has been no movement on a deal this year," said the report, adding that no one on either side confirmed that ties between Amazon and the Saudis have been permanently severed.

Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident who wrote columns for The Washington Post, was killed by Saudi operatives.

Amazon will not take part in a Saudi investment conference starting Tuesday which is set to mark Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's return to the world stage.

While some believe that Bezos' decision to join others in spurning the Crown Prince's international business showcase "Future Investment Initiative" (FII), nicknamed Davos in the Desert, both last year and this month to be the root cause of the rift between Amazon and the kingdom, others believe that the The Washington Post's relentless coverage of Khashoggi's murder to be the main issue.

"Digital attacks on Bezos began soon after the Khashoggi killing, coming from Saudi-based Twitter accounts. Those attacks multiplied after The Post published editorials and columns squarely placing responsibility for the murder on the Saudi government," said the report.

Twitter attacks on Bezos increased after the National Enquirer published an expose this year detailing Bezos's extramarital affair.

"Jeff Bezos has incited against Saudi Arabia and its leadership for weeks via his Washington Post, and now has been struck by a marital infidelity scandal that will cost him half his fortune in the divorce," a typical tweet said.

"Whoever earns Saudi Arabia's enmity will be broken, disparaged, and ended by God."

The billionaire's security consultant, Gavin de Becker, alleged that the Saudi government had "access to Bezos's phone and gained private information."

Bezos in a blog post earlier this year revealed that the Enquirer had threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he issued a statement to the public saying that the coverage was not politically motivated or influenced by political forces.

 



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