Ex-US energy secretary suspends role in Saudi project

Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary under President Barack Obama, said Wednesday he has suspended his advisory role in a Saudi mega-project over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist.

Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, has not been heard from since Oct. 2 when he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities.

In a written statement, Moniz, who has an advisory role on the board of the $500 billion mega city project NEOM, said “given current events, I am suspending my participation on the NEOM board”.

He said the suspension will move ahead until more information is made available about Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The NEOM project involves the creation of a huge transnational city and economic zone and covers 26,500 square kilometers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi while several countries — particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the UK — have expressed their desire that the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.

According to his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 28. After being told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on Oct. 1.

Khashoggi called the consulate and was told “that documents are being prepared” and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on Oct. 2 with Cengiz but was not seen after entering it.

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