On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department is charging two former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah, in an alleged scheme to help the government of Saudi Arabia spy on the accounts of their political enemies.
Abouammo, a U.S. citizen, is accused of spying on the Twitter accounts of three users that discussed the regime, and falsifying an invoice to obstruct federal law enforcement. Alzabarah, a Saudi national, allegedly gained the personal information of over 6,000 accounts in 2015 for the government of Riyadh, including that of dissident Omar Abdulaziz. Ahmed Almutairi, a second Saudi citizen, allegedly acted as a liaison between these two employees and the Saudi government.
Abdulaziz had ties to Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was murdered and dismembered in Turkey in an apparent plot by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” said David Anderson, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. “We will not allow U.S. companies or U.S. technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of U.S. law.”