NEW YORK: Portland Communications worked on behalf of Alwaleed Philanthropies, a group tied to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, last month before and during the U.N. General Assembly.
The contract, worth about $5,600 (£4,365), had been scheduled to run from September 18 to October 5. Work took place the week before the U.N. General Assembly and the week of September 24, said Portland partner Noah Black. The agency supported Alwaleed Philanthropies at the General Assembly, where it announced a partnership with U.N. Women, working on Facebook Live production and media relations.
The relationship ended on October 3, according to documents filed with the Justice Department. Black said the agency’s decision was not influenced by the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing on October 2, but that the agency had finished its work.
Black said Portland would likely not take on new work for Alwaleed Philanthropies or Saudi Arabia, adding that Portland works on behalf of the government of Qatar, which has been locked in a diplomatic stalemate with Saudi Arabia for influence in the region.
Previously, Portland supported the Riyadh-based King Abdullah Foundation, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents filed with the Justice Department. After being retained in July 2016 as a subcontractor to Washington, DC-based consulting firm The History Factory, Portland supported the foundation’s launch for a contract of $850,000.
Khashoggi went missing after he was seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. The Saudi government acknowledged he was killed, but only after the Turkish government provided evidence.
Five lobbying or communications firms -- Gladstone Place Partners, Glover Park Group, BGR Group, The Harbour Group, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher -- have resigned their work for Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s death.