Ex-Twitter Employee Sentenced for Spying on Twitter Users for Saudi Royals

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The Justice Department announced Thursday that a former Twitter employee, a Lebanese-American, was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison. He was convicted of accepting bribes and providing user data to Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family.

Photo via Rappler

Ahmad Abouammo, 45, was spying on users for the Saudi Royals

Abouammo worked as a media partnerships manager for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, had assisted in “accessing, monitoring, and conveying confidential and sensitive information that could be used to identify and locate Twitter users of interest to the Saudi Royal Family.”

“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 defendant shared the user information with a foreign government known for not tolerating dissidents, and he did so working 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.”

“Mr. Abouammo violated the trust placed on him to protect the privacy of individuals living in the US by giving their personal information to a foreign power for profit.  His conduct was made all the more egregious by the fact that the information was intended to deny US persons of their lawful rights,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “We are committed to holding accountable those who act unlawfully as unregistered foreign agents and advance hidden influence campaigns on behalf of foreign regimes.”

At least one of the Twitter users was influential and critical of the Saudi Royals. We know how the Saudis treat their enemies or perceived enemies.


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