Former Twitter employees charged with spying for Saudis


Two then-employees of Twitter used their position to provide the Saudi government with information about its critics on the platform, say prosecutors, who have charged them with espionage. The men rifled through "thousands of private accounts seeking personal information" of use to the kingdom's security forces, reports NPR.

Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen, was a media partnerships manager at Twitter who was not authorized to access Twitter users' private information. He allegedly did exactly that for which he received payments of up to $300,000 from a Saudi source identified in the complaint only as "Foreign Official-1." Abouammo also received a Hublot watch with a value of about $20,000. Abouammo is charged with acting as a foreign agent and falsifying records to obstruct a federal investigation. ...

Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen worked at Twitter beginning in August 2013 as a "site reliability engineer." Between May 21, 2015, and November 18, 2015, Alzabarah, without authorization, accessed "the Twitter data of over 6,000 Twitter users, including at least 33 usernames for which Saudi Arabian law enforcement had submitted emergency disclosure requests to Twitter," the complaint said. Among the accounts he accessed were those belonging to well-known critics of the Saudi government.