Gerard Butler cancels Saudi trip after journalist’s disappearance

Gerard Butler is speaking out about his decision to cancel a trip to Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The timing couldn’t have been worse,” Butler told CNN on Saturday during an interview for his film “Hunter Killer.” “We heard about Khashoggi going missing the day before we were supposed to leave, two days before, but the next day was when we had to go and it just didn’t feel like a smart move. It felt very insensitive and it’s something that we shouldn’t really be getting involved with, so we thought we’re going to stay away from that.”

Khashoggi was last seen on surveillance footage entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, claiming he left the consulate that afternoon. His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the building, has said she did not see him re-emerge.

Turkey has called on Saudi officials to provide evidence that Khashoggi left the consulate.

Butler was originally scheduled to attend a screening of his film in the country’s capital of Riyadh.

“It’s a shame because I really wanted to go there, we all did,” Butler said. “But it didn’t feel like the right move to make.”

Separately, several global businesses have withdrawn from the upcoming Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. Nearly of the event’s media partners have also made the decision not to attend, including CNN.

Saudi Arabia ended a 35-year ban on movie theaters with a screening of “Black Panther” in April. Several Hollywood creatives have made promotional visits to the country since then, including John Travolta and Jason Momoa.