A former employee of left-wing social media giant Twitter has been found guilty of using his position within the company to spy for the government of Saudi Arabia.
Bloomberg reports that a former employee of social media company Twitter was recently convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia by handing over the personal information of users on the platform who used anonymous accounts to criticize the country and its royal family.
President Joe Biden (L) being welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15, 2022. (Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Getty Images)
Ahmad Abouammo, a US resident born in Egypt, was found guilty by a jury on Tuesday of charges including acting as an agent of Saudi Arabia, money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and falsifying records. Abouammo’s trial took two weeks in San Francisco federal court and he now faces 10 to 20 years in prison when sentenced.
Abouammo worked as a media partnership manager for Twitter in 2015 and claimed he was just doing his job by promoting the social media network in the Middle East and North Africa. Prosecutors claimed that his relationship with a top aide to Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, now the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, went further than was asked by his job and helped the Crown Prince silence his critics. Breitbart News reported on the incident as it became public in 2020.
The jury saw evidence that Abouammo received a Hublot watch and $300,000 in wire transfers, which the U.S. claimed were bribes from MBS aide Bader Al-Asaker, in exchange for the private account information of Saudi dissidents.
Prosecutors in the case were prohibited by a court ruling from telling jurors that the U.S. and human rights organizations believe Saudi Arabia under MBS has secretly detained and tortured critics of the country and its government.
But they did hint at the extreme measures by using an expert witness who testified about the changing politics and culture of Saudi Arabia and through a woman who told jurors that her brother went silent in 2018 after posting satirical criticism of the country on Twitter.