Former Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia

Former Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia

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Two former employees of Twitter have been charged by the Department of Justice with spying for Saudi Arabia.

The charges, unsealed in U.S. District Courtin San Francisco, allege that Saudi officials sought private data of thousands of Twitter users including known critics of the Saudi government. Court documents charged Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, and Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen.

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It is also alleged that Abouammo and Alzabarah were rewarded with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars, Daily Caller reports. Abouammo appeared in a Seattle court on Wednesday and was placed in custody pending another hearing due on Friday. He is also charged with falsifying documents and making false statements to the FBI.

Abouammo left his job as a media partnership manager for Twitter in 2015, BBC reports. Alzabarah, a former Twitter engineer, is accused of accessing the personal data of more than 6,000 Twitter users in 2015 after being recruited by Saudi agents. The charges allege that a third person, Saudi citizen Ahmed Almutairi, acted as an intermediary between the two Twitter employees and Saudi officials.

“We recognize the lengths bad actors will go to try and undermine our service. Our company limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees,” a Twitter spokesman said in a statement.

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