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Virgin’s Richard Branson halts talks on $1 billion Saudi investment in space ventures

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British billionaire Richard Branson said on Thursday that his Virgin Group would suspend its discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund over a planned $1 billion investment in the group’s space ventures, in light of the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government,” Branson said in a statement.

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Branson also said he would suspend his directorship in two Saudi tourism projects around the Red Sea, citing Khashoggi’s disappearance. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pressure has mounted on Saudi Arabia since Oct. 2 when Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies and a Washington Post journalist, went missing. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund said it planned to invest about $1 billion in Branson’s space company, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit.

Branson said on Thursday, “We have asked for more information from the authorities in Saudi and to clarify their position in relation to Mr. Khashoggi.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United States has investigators overseas to assist Turkey in its investigation of the journalist’s disappearance and that they were also working with Saudi Arabia.

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Reporting by Gaurika Juneja in Bengaluru; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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