An ex-Twitter employee tried for espionage in favor of Saudi Arabia

According to the accusation, Ahmad Abouammo, a “corrupt employee”, sold for tens of thousands of dollars in Riyadh with detailed information on precise anonymous accounts.

[ Nimle] with AFP

A jury in California must judge the fate of a former Twitter employee, accused by the American justice of having defined his own platform of personal data to the profile of Saudi Arabia, who sought to know the identity of the regime’s criticism. Ahmad Abouammo is accused of having sold for tens of thousands of dollars, from Saudi Arabia, sensitive information, in particular detailed information concerning certain anonymous accounts.

Defense, before the jury withdrew to deliberate, replied that he was doing only his work, simply accepting some gifts.

“The evidence has shown that, for money and when he thought he was doing this out of sight, the accused sold his place to a loved one” of the Saudi royal family, said the Federal prosecutor Colin Sampson Last words against the jury. Ahmad Abouammo was arrested in Seattle in November 2021, considered to work illegally in favor of a foreign government.

With another Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, they are accused of having been approached by Riyad at the end of 2014-start 2015 in order to transmit user data accessible only internally (e-mail address, telephone number, Date of birth, etc.) which could allow Saudi Arabia to identify criticisms so far anonymous on the social network. 2>

100,000 dollars and a watch of $ 40,000 received

If Mr. Abouammo left Twitter in 2015 to settle in Seattle, Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi, left him the United States. For Angela Chuang, Ahmad Abouammo’s lawyer, her client is tried in place of Mr. Alzabarah. “And that is their fault, (American justice) let Alzabarah flee the country when he was under surveillance of the FBI!”, She said.

The lawyer, if she recognizes that a Saudi operation could have been set up in the aim of obtaining information on opponents of Twitter, seven years ago, assures that the accusation did not prove that his client was part of it.

“It is obvious that the accused that the government was looking for are not there,” said Ms. Chuang. She mocked the procedure which ends as a “human resources investigation disguised as federal trial”.

His client is indeed accused by Twitter of not having respected the rules of the company by not declaring to his hierarchy having received 100,000 dollars and a watch worth more than 40,000 dollars in the part of a relative of the Saudi monarchy. It was “pocket money” for Saudis people accustomed to opulence, said the jurors Ms. Chuang.

/Media reports.