Demands for an investigation into the potential national security repercussions of Saudi Arabia’s involvement and that of its prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, who is now the second-largest shareholder in the now-private social media business, have been spurred by Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.
With the aid of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Co. founder bin Talal, who agreed to roll over his company’s existing $1.89 billion holding in the social networking site, Musk could complete his $44 billion acquisition.
Dear ‘Chief Twit’ @elonmusk buddy. Together @Twitter all the way,” tweeted Prince Alwaleed last week.
Bloomberg reports that the Saudi firms are Twitter’s second-largest stockholders, trailing only Musk, with over 35 million shares.
Even though the Tesla CEO was able to secure several additional top investors, including the Qatar Investment Authority, Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, and Larry Ellison, the co-founder of the software company Oracle, some American politicians are concerned about Saudi Arabia’s involvement.
“We should be concerned that the Saudis, who have a clear interest in repressing political speech and impacting US politics, are now the second-largest owner of a major social media platform,” Sen. Chris Murphy said in a tweet on Monday.
The Connecticut Democrat, who chairs a powerful subcommittee on foreign relations, then said that he had written to the CFIUS, or Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, asking for a review of the financing of Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.
“To safeguard the national security interests of the United States and American individuals,” he said when asked what the investigation’s goal was.
CIFUS is tasked with investigating any transactions that would put a U.S. company under the control of a foreign organization. Although Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has already been completed, Murphy pointed out that the organization, led by Janet Yellen of the US Treasury Department, has the authority to halt transactions that raise questions.
Saudi Arabia has the eighth-highest number of Twitter users globally, but it also has few restrictions on free speech.
This past month, U.S. According to the Washington Post, the State Department announced that the monarchy had sentenced an American citizen, Saad Ibrahim Almadi, to 16 years in prison for tweeting against the Saudi regime.
Murphy also brought up the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate.
The repeated claims that the country suppresses free expression and other alleged human rights violations stand in sharp contrast to Musk’s goal of reducing Twitter content moderation.
The 51-year-old millionaire, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” made a bid to buy Twitter in April and declared that he would prioritize free expression on the platform.
Musk has also stated that he thinks the social media company should abide by the rules governing freedom of expression in the nation in which it conducts business.