Gerard Butler has pulled out of a trip to Saudi Arabia to promote his new movie “Hunter Killer” following the disappearance of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a representative for the actor told TheWrap.
Butler was expected to arrive in Riyadh on Tuesday for interviews with a few news outlets before he attended the premiere for “Hunter Killer.” His representative said, however, that after he learned about news regarding Khashoggi he decided to forego the trip.
“Given the circumstances, it was no longer appropriate to make the trip,” the actor’s rep told TheWrap.
Once seen as on the precipice of a bright new future, Saudi Arabia is now facing accusations from senior Turkish government officials that they lured Khashoggi, Washington Post contributor, into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and murdered him with a 15-man hit team that then dismembered his body with a bone saw, The New York Times reported. Khashoggi was last seen Oct. 2 and has been a longtime regime dissident and most recently a sharp critic of their ongoing war in Yemen.
The kingdom has denied the accusations, but the latest reporting from CNN suggests that Turkey has both audio and video evidence to corroborate the claims.
Saudi Arabia has made audacious moves in recent years to seemingly open the country to entertainment and promote progress. The country lifted its ban on movie theaters last December and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also lifted a longstanding ban on female drivers.
The opening up to Hollywood and U.S. investment as attracted several big-name stars, including John Travolta, Jason Mamoa and Ian Somerhalder. On Thursday a number of media and investment companies pulled out of a major Saudi conference set for next month, including Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.
Saudi Arabia’s reach into U.S. commercial life is extensive and the full ramifications of a broad-based boycott over Khashoggi may still be on the horizon. Also Thursday, talent agency WME said it was “assessing” its partnership with the kingdom as well.