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Several Twitter Staff Charged with Spying for Saudi Arabia

Accepted submission by canopic jug at 2019-11-07 07:58:00

Several sites are reporting that several of Twitter's staff were allegedly spying for Saudi Arabia against its critics.

From Wired: Twitter Insiders Allegedly Spied for Saudi Arabia []

In charges released Wednesday, the Justice Department accused two former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah, of abusing their internal system privileges to spy on target users and pass the information they collected to Saudi Arabia. The criminal complaint also alleges that it was trivial for them to do so—a chilling reminder of how much damage an insider can cause.

The court documents, first reported by The Washington Post, also reference a third suspect, Ahmed Almutairi, who allegedly worked as an intermediary between the Twitter insiders and the Saudi government. Alzabarah and Almutairi are both Saudi citizens, while Abouammo is a United States citizen. He was arrested in Seattle on Tuesday.

From Variety: Twitter Ex-Employees Accused of Spying on Saudi Dissidents []

Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah each worked for the company from 2013 to 2015. The complaint alleges that Alzabarah, a site reliability engineer, improperly accessed the data of more than 6,000 Twitter users.

Abouammo, who handled media partnerships for the Middle East region, is alleged to have received $300,000 from a Saudi official as well as a Hublot watch, valued at least at $20,000. Abouammo is accused of repeatedly accessing the private information of a prominent critic of the Saudi government, including an email address and phone number.

Even after leaving the company, Abouammo allegedly contacted friends at Twitter to facilitate Saudi government requests, such as for account verification and to shutter accounts that had violated the terms of service. Abouammo, an American citizen, was recently arrested in Washington state.

Twitter has a long history of ties to Saudi Arabia [], not just in what it chooses to filter and/or shadow ban.

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