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The incident comes as regulators accuse the ride-hailing service of failing to protect riders.
Rebecca Dykes, a 30-year-old who worked at the British embassy in Beirut, went missing late on Friday and was found strangled on the side of the road early Saturday, CNET reported.
A Lebanese security official said the man in custody, who is referred to as “Tariq H,” had a criminal history of drug use, according to Reuters. Another authority said the murder was strictly criminal, not politically motivated.
“We are horrified by this senseless act of violence,” an Uber spokesperson told the Daily Dot. “Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way we can.”
Hugo Shorter, a British ambassador to Lebanon, wrote on Twitter the embassy is “deeply shocked, saddened by this news.”
“We’re providing consular support to her family and working very closely with Lebanese authorities who are conducting police investigation,” Shorter wrote.
The whole embassy is deeply shocked, saddened by this news. My thoughts are with Becky’s family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss. We're providing consular support to her family & working very closely with Lebanese authorities who are conducting police investigation.
— Hugo Shorter (@HugoShorter) December 17, 2017
The issue could set Uber back as pressure from government regulators continues to mount. The company was recently banned from London, one of its largest markets, after the city decided not to renew its license, citing Uber’s failure to protect drivers.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s new CEO, apologized for the mistakes his company made and promised to make changes. But it wasn’t enough to stop other cities from following London’s lead. Just last week, York, England, became the third city in the U.K. to ban Uber.
In the U.S., questions around Uber’s process of verifying drivers arose after it was determined the terror suspect accused of killing eight people in Manhattan—29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov—was an Uber driver.
Uber told the Financial Times the murder suspect in Lebanon passed the checks on his judicial record and wasn’t found to have any “problematic safety reports.” However, officials say he was arrested on drug-related charges between 2015 and 2017, according to Reuters. In many countries, including Lebanon, the government is responsible for awarding commercial licenses to Uber drivers and taxi operators.
The growing fear of peer-to-peer services comes as Uber’s internal issues continue to mount. The beleaguered company recently admitted to concealing a massive cybersecurity breach by paying hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. In the breach, the personal data of more than 57 million riders and drivers was stolen by a 20-year-old from Florida.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.