Tesla “probably would not” take money from Saudi Arabia in the wake of the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Chief Executive Elon Musk said.
Later explaining his tweet in a blog post, Tesla’s boss said he had been approached by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund “multiple times” about the prospect of taking Tesla private, and that it has bought a nearly 5 percent stake in Tesla through the public market.
Interviewed by Recode’s Kara Swisher, which was published early Friday morning, Musk was asked directly about his thoughts on the death of Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime.
“Yeah, I mean, that sounds pretty bad. So … that is not good. That is bad,” he said.
Asked whether he would accept Saudi money now, following Khashoggi’s death, Musk said: “I think we probably would not.”
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor last week acknowledged for the first time that Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey was “premeditated,” deviating from previous claims that his death was unintended.
The Arab kingdom initially denied any involvement in his disappearance, saying the Washington Post journalist had left the consulate unharmed. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said he is cooperating with Turkey over Khashoggi’s killing, and that those found guilty will be brought to justice.