Patrick Soon-Shiong, billionaire philanthropist and owner of the Los Angeles Times, is the latest luminary to drop out of speaking at an investor conference in Saudi Arabia after the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong will not be attending the upcoming Future Investment Initiative event in Riyadh,” a spokesman said in a statement provided to CNBC.
Soon-Shiong, who recently purchased the paper, is joining a growing list of media entities who are bowing out of attending the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, also known as “Davos in the desert.”
The New York Times said Wednesday that it dropped out of the conference. The Economist’s editor-in-chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes, and CNBC anchor and New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin have also said they would not be participating this year.
Other media outlets sponsoring the event include CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg and CNN.
The pullback by several media leaders comes amid suspicions that Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi operatives at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
The Saudi government has denied any wrongdoing. White House officials, including President Donald Trump‘s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Trump himself said Wednesday that he talked to Saudi officials “at the highest level.”
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who had voluntarily exiled himself from Saudi Arabia, has been a vocal critic of the crown prince’s government.