LONDON — A driver for Uber in Lebanon has been arrested in connection with the killing of a British diplomat in Beirut over the weekend, and the ride-hailing company said on Monday that it was cooperating with the authorities.
The body of the victim, Rebecca Dykes, was found next to a highway on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital on Saturday. She is thought to have spent Friday night at a friend’s goodbye party in the Gemmayze district of Beirut.
“We are horrified by this senseless act of violence,” said Harry Porter, a spokesman for Uber. “Our hearts are with the victim and her family. We are working with authorities to assist their investigation in any way we can.”
News outlets have reported that the suspect had a criminal record. Uber has come under intense scrutiny in the past for its lax approach to conducting background checks on drivers. In 2014, both Uber and one of its competitors, Lyft, lobbied regulators in cities across the United States to ease rules requiring the fingerprinting of drivers for background checks, a more thorough but time-consuming process.
Uber, however, uses a different approach in cities where drivers are required to be licensed by the taxi commission to drive for the company, like Beirut. Mr. Porter said that Uber in Lebanon used only taxi drivers with commercial licenses, which require government background checks.
He added that Uber had also carried out a background check, which had come back clean. The ride-hailing company reviewed the suspect’s short employment history, Mr. Porter said, and did not found anything raising safety concerns.
The National News Agency of Lebanon said the driver, identified only as Tarek H., had confessed to killing Ms. Dykes.
“The whole embassy is deeply shocked, saddened by this news,” Hugo Shorter, the British ambassador to Lebanon, wrote on Twitter. “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.”
In June, Uber fired a senior executive who had obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi in December 2014. The driver in that case, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was convicted of kidnapping and rape.
The passenger, 26, said she had fallen asleep in his vehicle and woken up in a secluded location with Mr. Yadav beside her in the back seat.