Espionage guilty – Twitter man denounced regime critics in Saudi Arabia


A former employee of the short message service Twitter has been found guilty in the US of selling personal data of possible opponents of the regime to Saudi Arabia. A jury in San Francisco, California has found Ahmad Abouammo guilty of, among other things, money laundering, fraud and illegal agency work for a foreign government. The fine will be determined later.

Abouammo was arrested in Seattle in November 2019. He and another Twitter employee were accused of having been contacted in 2014 by Saudi Arabian officials to pass only internally accessible user data such as email addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth behind anonymous user accounts.

Saudis paid $100,000 in cash
The data could have enabled Riyadh to identify previously anonymous critics of the government in the SMS service. Abouammo, who left Twitter in 2015 to join e-commerce giant Amazon, received $100,000 in cash and a $40,000 watch.

Data went to the Crown Prince’s environment
Prosecutor Colin Sampson said in his closing statement that the accused had “sold his position to an insider” close to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Abouammo’s lawyer Angela Chuang, on the other hand, said her client only accepted gifts from generous Saudis after he quit his job as an account manager at Twitter. He accepted the $100,000 and the expensive watch; However, in Saudi Arabian culture, this is just “change”.

Biden and Macron visited bin Salman
International dealings with the arch-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia are controversial because of the human rights situation there. According to US intelligence, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally authorized the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

In July, both US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron met the heir apparent. The talks include Saudi Arabia as a possible oil supplier to mitigate the energy crisis caused by the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Source: Krone


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