PC: The Times Of Israel
On Tuesday, a former Twitter manager who had been charged with spying for Saudi Arabia was found guilty of six criminal charges, including serving as the nation’s agent and attempting to hide a payment from a person connected to the Saudi royal family.
After a 2-and-a-half week trial in San Francisco federal court, Ahmad Abouammo, a dual US-Lebanese citizen who worked at Twitter to manage relationships with journalists and celebrities in the Middle East and North Africa, was found guilty.
Abouammo’s federal public defenders did not immediately reply to demands for comment. Twitter (TWTR) opted against making a comment.
Abouammo was allegedly hired by Bader Al-Asaker, a key advisor to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to utilise his intimate knowledge to access Twitter accounts and gather personal data about Saudi dissidents.
According to reports, these accounts included @mujtahidd, an alias for a political agitator who amassed millions of Twitter followers during the Arab Spring upheavals by accusing the Saudi royal family of corruption and other wrongdoings.
According to the prosecution, Abouammo received at least $300,000 and a $20,000 expensive watch from Al-Asaker and concealed the funds by wire-transferring them to his personal account in the United States through a relative’s account in Lebanon.
Defense counsel claimed that Abouammo’s duties at Twitter was routinely performed as part of his position.
Abouammo was also found guilty of conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud, and honest services fraud.
US Attorney Stephanie Hinds in San Francisco released a statement saying, “The government proved and the jury found that Abouammo breached a sacred trust to safeguard private personal information from Twitter’s users and sold confidential consumer information to a foreign government.”
Former Abouammo coworker Ali Alzabarah was also charged with breaking into Twitter accounts on behalf of Saudi Arabia, although he left the country before that happened. Twitter and Al-Asaker, the Saudi crown prince, are not named as defendants.