Former Twitter employee sentenced to 3.5 years for espionage for Saudi Arabia

Former Twitter employee sentenced to 3.5 years for espionage for Saudi Arabia

US authorities said on Wednesday that a former Twitter manager guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia by disclosing user data several years ago and potentially exposing users to persecution was sentenced to 3-and-a-half years in jail.

In August, following his trial in San Francisco federal court, a jury found Ahmad Abouammo guilty.

Prosecutors had requested a prison sentence of slightly over seven years, stating that they desired “a penalty severe enough to dissuade others in the technology and social media industries from selling the personal information of vulnerable individuals.” Abouammo faced a maximum prison sentence of decades.

Abouammo’s counsel had requested that US District Judge Edward Chen sentence him to home detention with no jail time. During his tenure at Twitter, which extended from 2013 to 2015, they noted Abouammo’s continued health concerns, absence of prior convictions, and family troubles.

The case centered on Abouammo’s efforts to research two Twitter accounts, a $42,000 watch he received from a Saudi official, and two wire payments totaling $100,000 each.

Prosecutors alleged that Abouammo, who oversaw Twitter’s relationships with journalists and celebrities in the Middle East and North Africa, transmitted sensitive information from the company’s systems to Saudi officials in order to assist them in identifying and locating Twitter users of interest, thereby exposing them to the risk of persecution.

Abouammo’s federal public defenders did not immediately reply to demands for comment.

Twitter, which Elon Musk recently acquired, and the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not reply quickly to demands for comment.

While at Twitter, Abouammo’s family “struggled to pay for and deal with severe upheavals in his sister’s life,” including specialized medical care for her newborn daughter, his attorneys stated in their sentence request.

The attorneys also stated that Abouammo’s acts paled in comparison to those of another former Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, who was suspected of accessing hundreds of Twitter accounts on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Alzabarah fled the United States prior to his indictment.

 

»Former Twitter employee sentenced to 3.5 years for espionage for Saudi Arabia«

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