Two Twitter Employees Spied on Users for Saudi Arabia

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The Justice Department charged two former Twitter employees Wednesday with exploiting their access to the company's internal systems to help Saudi Arabia, raising questions about the security of technology companies as they grapple with scrutiny for spreading disinformation and influencing public opinion.

According to an indictment filed on November 5 and unsealed just yesterday, one of the charged Twitter employees, American citizen Ahmad Abouammo, left the company in May 2015 and the other, Saudi citizen Ali Alzabarah, left the company in December 2015. Almutairi, who apparently worked for a social-media-marketing company tied to the Saudi royal family, is charged with espionage, as are Abouammo and Alzabarah.

Abouammo informed the official he was in charge of media partnerships for the MENA region, and from there he began aiding the official in everything from arranging tours of Twitter for Saudi entrepreneurs to passing along user data of critics.

The complaint also alleged that the employees - whose jobs did not require access to Twitter users' private information - were rewarded with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts.

Anderson also said in the statement that United States laws protect U.S. companies from such illegal foreign penetration, adding that they won't allow USA companies or technology to be used as a tool for external repression and violations of USA laws.

Abouammo met Asaker, according to the complaint, on multiple occasions, once while leading a tour of Twitter's San Francisco office for a group of so-called Saudi "entrepreneurs". The next, a Saudi citizen named Ali Alzabarah, fled the country a working day following staying confronted about his activities and now being positioned on depart by Twitter in December 2015.

Just one of the previous employees-Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen who remaining Twitter in May 2015-was arrested on Tuesday.

"We recognize the lengths bad actors will go to try and undermine our service", Twitter said in a statement.

Reports say Ahmad Abouammo was arrested on Tuesday and is due to appear in court in Seattle later on Wednesday. The Saudi government had no comment on the case. Saudi government agents murdered the Washington Post journalist at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul later that year. Abouammo allegedly accessed the user's email address at least six more times between January 2015 and February 2015.On Feb. 16, 2015, the foreign official sent Abouammo a wire transfer for $100,000, and on Feb. 24, 2015, he was sent a wire transfer of almost $10,000, according to the complaint. It is not clear who is representing him. He was placed on leave, his laptop was confiscated, and he was escorted from the building. We're dedicated to defending those that use our service to advocate for equality, particular person freedoms, and human rights.

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