According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, a former employee of Twitter was found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia and given a sentence of three and a half years in a US federal prison.
According to the attorney’s office, Ahmad Abouammo, 45, was found guilty of giving Saudi officials access to private information on Twitter users in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Prosecutors originally wanted to sentence him for over seven years “to deter others in the technology and social media industry from selling out the data of vulnerable users,” according to Reuters.
“This case revealed that foreign governments will bribe insiders to obtain the user information that is collected and stored by our Silicon Valley social media companies,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds.
“In handing down today’s sentence, the Court emphasized that the defendant shared the user information with a foreign government known for not tolerating dissidents, and he did so work with his even more culpable co-defendant who fled the country rather than face trial. This sentence sends a message to insiders with access to user information to safeguard it, particularly from repressive regimes, or risk significant time in prison.”
When international media contacted Angela Chuang, the public defender who is defending Ex-Twitter employee Abouammo, about the matter after work hours, she did not immediately answer.
From 2013 to 2015, Abouammo served as Twitter’s regional head of media partnerships for the MENA area.
In 2014, he began receiving payments from a Saudi official associated with the Saudi Royal Family.
More than 6,000 Twitter users, some of whom were Saudi Arabian government critics, including the anonymous account “Mujtahidd” and well-known activist Omar Abdulaziz, had their email addresses and phone numbers.
In exchange, Abouammo received two $100,000 wire payments into a Lebanese bank account opened in his father’s name, along with a $42,000 pricey Hublot watch.
He was initially detained in November 2019, and a federal investigation led to his conviction for money laundering, wire fraud, and record-keeping fraud.
In August 2022, a jury cleared him of five wire fraud charges but found him guilty of the other accusations.
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