SAN FRANCISCO –
A former Twitter employee has been found guilty of failing to register as a representative for Saudi Arabia and other charges after accessing the personal data of users who criticized the kingdom’s government in a protracted espionage case. from Silicon Valley to the Middle East.
Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen and Twitter’s former director of communications partnerships for the Middle East region, was charged in 2019 with acting as a representative of Saudi Arabia without registering with the government. USA. A grand jury found him on six counts, including conspiracy to commit electronic fraud and money laundering. The jury acquitted him of five other charges related to electronic fraud.
The incident marks the first time the kingdom, which has long been linked to the US through its vast oil reserves and regional security arrangements, has been accused of spying for the US.
A 2019 FBI complaint alleges that Abouammo and Saudi citizen Ali Alzabarah, who worked as an engineer at Twitter, used their locations to access confidential Twitter data about users, addresses, and addresses. their email, phone number and IP address, which are then used to identify the user’s location.
The third man named in the lawsuit, Saudi citizen Ahmed Al-Mutairi, is said to have worked with the Saudi royal family as an intermediary.
The US lawsuit alleges that the user data of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts was accessed, including at least 33 usernames to which Saudi law enforcement filed an urgent disclosure request. Twitter. Abouammo was arrested in November 2019 and released. He has pleaded not guilty. The FBI still lists Al-Mutairi and Alzabarah as most wanted.
Attorneys for Abouammo and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
O’Brien reports from Providence, Rhode Island.