Elon Musk claps back as Saudi prince speaks out on potential Twitter takeover

Musk raised important questions about Saudi Arabia's record on free speech

Tesla CEO Elon Musk clapped back after Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alawaleed bin Talal rejected his offer to purchase Twitter for $43 billion.

"I don't believe that the proposed offer by @elonmusk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of @Twitter given its growth prospects," Alaweed tweeted Thursday. "Being one of the largest & long-term shareholders of Twitter, [Kingdom Holding Company] & I reject this offer."


Alaweed owns a 4.45% stake in Twitter, while Kingdom Holding, the company he owns, owns 0.72% of the company.

Elon Musk gestures as he speaks during a press conference at SpaceX's Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on February 10, 2022. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Interesting," Musk cheekily responded on Twitter. "Just two questions, if I may. How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly? What are the Kingdom’s views on journalistic freedom of speech?"

Saudi Arabia's law does not provide for freedom of expression or for freedom of the press, the U.S. State Department reported in 2018.

"Mass media and all other vehicles of expression shall employ civil and polite language, contribute towards the education of the nation, and strengthen unity," the Basic Law specifies. "The media are prohibited from committing acts that lead to disorder and division, affect the security of the state or its public relations, or undermine human dignity and rights."

In this Oct. 2, 2019 file photo, a Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi prior to a ceremony, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, marking the one-year anniversary of his death. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File / AP Newsroom)

Authorities are responsible for regulating and determining which speech or expression undermines internal security, and the government can ban or suspend media outlets if it concludes they violated the press and publications law.

The Biden administration declassified a report last year, a report which blamed Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for approving the operation to capture or kill journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

This long-exposure image shows a trail of a group of SpaceX's Starlink satellites passing over Uruguay as seen from the countryside some 185 km north of Montevideo near Capilla del Sauce, Florida Department, on February 7, 2021.  (Photo by MARIANA SUAREZ/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Justice Department charged two former Twitter employees in 2019, accusing them of spying for Saudi Arabia in order to target the regime's critics. When podcaster Alex Barredo brought this to Musk's attention, he signified his interest in the story.

Musk's moves on Twitter have bolstered the company's stock price.


The market value of the social media giant hit $40 billion when he revealed his 9.2% stake in the company this month, according to Dow Jones Market Data Group, up from $29.9 billion back on Jan. 31 when he first began loading up on shares unbeknownst to the investing public.