Former Twitter employee convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia

Former Twitter employee Ahmad Abouammo has been found guilty of spying for the Saudi government, according to a report by Bloomberg. The jury delivered judgment Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco, where Abouammo was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and falsification of documents.

Abouammo previously worked at Twitter as head of media partnerships and helped prominent figures in the Middle East and North Africa promote their accounts. However, he leveraged his position to gain access to the email addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth of users who were critical of the Saudi government. Abouammo then passed this information to Saudi officials between November 2014 and May 2015 and received gifts in return.

In 2019, the Justice Department charged Abouammo and another former Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, with espionage. The agency then expanded those charges in 2020 to include a third individual, Ahmed Almutairi, who allegedly coordinated the scheme. Almutairi and Alzabarah are still wanted by the US government. Last year, human rights activist Ali Al-Ahmed sued Twitter, saying the platform could have done more to protect his information.

According Bloomberg, prosecutors accused Abouammo of working with an aide to Mohammed bin Salman, who is now Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, to suppress dissidents. Abouammo allegedly argued that he was just doing his job and blamed Twitter for not securing user data.

Abouammo faces 10 to 20 years in prison when convicted. Twitter declined to comment.


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