Ex-Twitter employee sentenced in Saudi spying case

Ex-Twitter employee sentenced in Saudi spying case

Ahmed Abouammo, a Lebanese US citizen who helped oversee relationships with journalists and celebrities in the Middle East and North Africa on Twitter, was convicted after a two-and-a-half week trial in federal court in San Francisco.

Jurors acquitted him of five of the eleven charges against him.

Federal defense attorneys representing Abouammo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter declined to comment.

Prosecutors said Badr Al-Asaker, a close adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, recruited Abouammo to use his inside information to gain access to Twitter accounts and reveal personal information about Saudi dissidents.

These accounts will include mujtahidd, the pseudonym of a political agitator who gained millions of followers on Twitter during the Arab Spring uprisings by accusing the Saudi royal family of corruption and other crimes.

According to the prosecution, Abouammo received at least $300,000 and a $20,000 luxury watch from Al-Asaker, and hid the money by depositing it in a relative’s account in Lebanon and transferring it to his own account in the United States.

Defense attorneys argued that Abouammo’s Twitter job was just part of his job.

Abouammo was also found guilty of wire and honest service fraud, money laundering and one count of conspiracy.

“The government has shown, and the jury has come to a conclusion, that Abouammo violated the sacred trust to hold the private data of Twitter customers, and that he sold the private customer data to a foreign government,” US Attorney Stephanie Hinds said. In San Francisco, in a statement.

Ali Alzabarah, a former colleague of Abouammo, who is also accused of accessing Twitter accounts on behalf of Saudi Arabia, left the United States before he was charged. Al-Asaker, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and Twitter are not among the suspects.

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