Retired Twitter employee convicted to more than three years in prison to spy for Saudi Arabia

Retired Twitter employee convicted to more than three years in prison to spy for Saudi Arabia

December 19, 2022: -A retired Twitter employee found guilty, who spies on users on behalf of a Saudi family, has been convicted to three and a half years in prison.

Ahmad Abouammo, a dual U.S.-Lebanese people who supported overseeing media with the partners for Twitter in North Africa, was a part of a scheme to acquire users’ personal information, which included phone numbers and birth dates for a Saudi administration agent. He was convicted in the U.S. District Court for California’s Northern District on Wednesday.

The Justice Department has stated that it believes that one more former Twitter employee is accused of accessing user narratives, and a man accused of supporting the Saudi administration with the scheme has fled to Saudi Arabia, evading American authorities.

The Saudi administration penalizes anti-government expression on social media pages such as Twitter. The courts sentenced Salma al-Shehab, a Saudi citizen and a mother of two children, to 34 years in the penitentiary for tweeting regarding the protests of the government.

According to testimony from an FBI person presented to the Northern District, a Saudi administration agent began courting Abouammo in 2014 by purchasing gifts and depositing money in the relative’s bank account. Abouammo then started secretly accessing the accounts of users who were critical of the Saudi administration and sharing their email addresses and phone numbers with the administrative agent.

Even later than Abouammo left Twitter in May 2015, he still supported the Saudi administration by contacting retired co-workers and encouraging them to verify particular Saudi accounts or to remove posts that the Saudi people highlighted as it violates the site’s terms of service, the FBI agent stated in their testimony. He obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars and used a few to decrease payment on a home in Seattle, Wash.

The indictment highlights the sequence that Twitter faces from foreign spies seeing value in the data it stores on users and their direct communications.

All major tech firms can be targets for intelligence meetings, and Twitter has long been a particular target, which functions as a crucial platform for protesters and dissidents globally.

While Abouammo is the initial person found guilty and convicted for spying the Twitter on behalf of a foreign administration, a retired head of cybersecurity at the firm has testified that spies from nearly two other countries have infiltrated the group.

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