Ex-Twitter employee found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia

Former Twitter employee found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia

The accused faces between 10 and 20 years in prison.

A former Twitter employee was found guilty on Tuesday of spying on users of the social network on behalf of Saudi Arabia, which sought to know the identity of people critical of the regime and the family royal.

A San Francisco court jury has ruled that Ahmad Abouammo did sell personal information about anonymous users to Riad, in exchange for dozens thousands of dollars.

He faces between 10 and 20 years in prison for acting on behalf of a foreign government and for money laundering, fraud and falsification of documents. His sentence will be handed down at a later date.

The evidence showed that, for money and when he thought he was doing it out of sight, the defendant sold his job (from Twitter employee, Editor's note) to a close friend of the Saudi royal family, federal prosecutor Colin Sampson told the jury last week, after two weeks of trial.

The verdict comes after human rights activists criticized Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron for their diplomatic policy towards Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sidelined from the international scene after the assassination of the president. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey in 2018.

Numerous NGOs regularly accuse the leader, nicknamed MBS, and his regime of spying on, kidnapping and torturing dissidents, which Riad denies.

Ahmad Abouammo was arrested in Seattle in November 2019. The prosecution accuses him and another ex-Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, of having was approached by Riad at the end of 2014-beginning of 2015 in order to transmit user data accessible only internally (e-mail address, telephone number, date of birth, etc.).

Mr. Abouammo left Twitter in 2015. Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi, left the United States.

Angela Chuang, Ahmad Abouammo's lawyer, admitted that a Saudi operation could have been mounted in the Saudi Arabia seven years ago. purpose of obtaining information about opponents from Twitter employees.

But according to her, her client was tried instead of Mr. Alzabarah. It is obvious that the defendants the government was looking for are not there, she said.

Twitter, requested by AFP, declined to comment on the verdict.

The platform accuses its former employee of not having respected the rules of the company by not declaring to his hierarchy that he received 100,000 dollars and a watch from & #x27;worth over $40,000 from someone close to the Saudi monarchy.

It was pocket money for Saudis accustomed to opulence, Ms. Chuang told jurors.

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