Ex-Twitter employees accused of spying for Saudi Arabia

Agency, 7 November : Two former employees of Twitter have been charged in the US with spying for Saudi Arabia. The charges, unsealed on Wednesday in San Francisco, allege that Saudi agents sought personal information about Twitter users including known critics of the Saudi government.

Court documents named the two as Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, and Ali Alzabarah, from Saudi Arabia. A third person, Saudi citizen Ahmed Almutairi, is also accused of spying.

The New York Times says it is the first time that Saudi citizens have been charged with spying inside the United States. The charges allege Mr Almutairi acted as an intermediary between the two Twitter employees and Saudi officials.

Ahmad Abouammo appeared in a Seattle court on Wednesday and was remanded in custody pending another hearing due on Friday. He is also charged with falsifying documents and making false statements to the FBI. Mr Abouammo is said to have left his job as a media partnership manager for Twitter in 2015.

Ali Alzabarah and Ahmed Almutairi are both believed to be in Saudi Arabia. Mr Alzabarah, a former Twitter engineer, is accused of accessing the personal data of more than 6,000 Twitter users in 2015 after being recruited by Saudi agents.

He was confronted by his supervisors and placed on administrative leave before fleeing to Saudi Arabia with his wife and daughter, investigators said.

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