Ex Twitter employee found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabian government

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A former Twitter employee was found guilty of spying on certain Twitter users for Saudi Arabia.

A former Twitter employee, Ahmad Abouammo (44), was found guilty of gathering private information of certain Twitter users and passing them to Saudi Arabia.

“Ahmad Abouammo, a US resident born in Egypt, was found guilty by a jury Tuesday of charges including acting as an agent for Saudi Arabia, money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and falsifying records, following a two-week trial in San Francisco federal court.” reported Bloomberg.

The man faces from 10 up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced. 

In November 2019, the former Twitter employees Abouammo and the Saudi citizen Ali Alzabarah have been charged with spying on thousands of Twitter user accounts on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government. The two former Twitter employees operated for the Saudi Arabian government with the intent of unmasking dissidents using the social network.

Representatives of the Saudi Arabian government recruited the duo in 2014, their mission was to gather non-public information of Twitter accounts associated with known prominent critics of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Royal Family.

Abouammo and Alzabarah had unauthorized access to information associated with some profiles, including email addresses, devices used, user-provided biographical information, birth dates, logs that contained the user’s browser information, a log of all of a particular user’s actions on the Twitter platform at any given time, and other info that can be used to geo-locate a user such as IP addresses and phone numbers.

According to the indictment, Alzabarah joined Twitter in August 2013 as a “site reliability engineer,” he worked with the Saudi officials between May 21 and November 18, 2015. He is accused of allegedly spied on more than 6,000 Twitter accounts, including tens of users for which Saudi Arabian law enforcement had submitted emergency disclosure requests to Twitter.

Abouammo was charged with acting as a foreign agent on US soil, it also provided falsified records to feds to interfere with their investigation.

The man also deleted certain information from the social media platform and in some cases, he shut down Twitter accounts at the request of Saudi government officials. Of course, he was also able to unmask the identities of some users on behalf of the Saudi Arabian Government.

Saudi officials paid up to $300,000 to Abouammo for his work, the indictment explained that it was possible by masquerading the payments with faked invoices. The document also states that the man received a Hublot Unico Big Bang King Gold Ceramic watch.

According to an indictment, Abouammo lied to FBI agents saying the watch was a replica costing $500 and that the last $100,000 wire from Al-Asaker was for legitimate freelance consulting work.

US DoJ Department of Justice has also charged the Saudi national Ahmed al Mutairi, also known as Ahmed ALJBREEN, who directed a Saudi Saudi social media marketing company with ties to the royal family.

Ahmed al Mutairi, was acting as an intermediary between the two former Twitter employees and the officials of the Saudi Arabian Government.

Abouammo was arrested by the FBI in November 2019 in Seattle

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, cyberespionage)

The post Ex Twitter employee found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabian government appeared first on Security Affairs.

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