Former Twitter employee found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia – TechCrunch

A former Twitter employee suspected of spying convicted on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The employee, US resident Ahmad Abouammo, was also found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, falsifying records and money laundering. He faces 20 years in prison.

Abouammo worked on media partnerships in the Middle East at the company from 2014 to 2015. Theo federal complaint, he and another Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, were approached by the Saudi government and offered cash and luxury goods for them to cooperate in collecting personal information on Twitter of interest to users. . Alzabarah, a company engineer, fled to Saudi Arabia and evaded trial. Regarding his ties to the Saudi government, Twitter has sent out warnings to some users that their accounts have been hacked. targeted by state-sponsored organizations in 2015.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that a prominent member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s government slapped Abouammo in the face to help investigate his enemies. During that cooperation, Abouammo allegedly personal information collected include the dates of birth, email addresses, and phone numbers of critics of the Saudi government, and send that data to his contacts there. Abouammo argued that he only accessed the information as part of his regular work duties at Twitter.

In 2018, agents of the Saudi government murdered and exhumed Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, Virginia resident and frequent critic of the regime. Although there is a lot of evidence that the crown prince ordered the killing to silence political enemies, the US maintains a friendly relationship with the government of Saudi Arabia.

According to Bloomberg, prosecutors are not allowed to instruct a jury directly on the brutal punishment Saudi Arabia has for its critics, but they can demonstrate that reputation through witnesses, including including one woman who described how her brother disappeared in 2018 after criticizing the country on Twitter.

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