Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying on thousands of Twitter user accounts on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government. The two former Twitter employees operated for the Saudi Arabian government with the intent of unmasking dissidents using the social network.
According to the indictment filed on November 5, the two former employees are American citizen Ahmad Abouammo and Saudi citizen Ali Alzabarah, both left the company in December 2015.
“Specifically, from at least in or about November 20, 2014, up to and including in or about May 24,2015, in the Northern District of California and elsewhere, ALMUTAIRI, the defendant, did knowingly act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government, specifically, ALMUT
According to the indictment, Alzabarah joined Twitter in August 2013 as a “site reliability engineer,” he worked with the Saudi officials between May 21 and November 18, 2015. He is accused of allegedly spying on more than 6,000 Twitter accounts, including tens of users for which Saudi Arabian law enforcement had submitted emergency disclosure requests to Twitter.
Abouammo was charged with acting as a foreign agent on US soil, it also provided falsified records to feds to interfere with their investigation.
The man also deleted certain information from the social media platform and in some cases, he shut down Twitter accounts on request of the Saudi government officials. Of course, he was also able to unmask the identities of some users on behalf of the Saudi Arabian Government.
Saudi officials paid up to $300,000 to Abouammo for his work, the indictment explained that it was possible by masquerading the payments with faked invoices. The document also states that the man received a Hublot Unico Big Bang King Gold Ceramic watch.
US DoJ Department of Justice has also charged the Saudi national Ahmed al Mutairi, also known as Ahmed ALJBREEN, who directed a
Ahmed al Mutairi, was acting as an intermediary between the two former Twitter employees and the officials of the Saudi Arabian Government.
Abouammo was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday in Seattle, the other two suspects are still at large.
“We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work,” Twitter said in the statement.