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A former employee of Twitter has been found guilty of charges related to spying for the Saudi government

TechA former employee of Twitter has been found guilty of charges related to spying for the Saudi government

A former Twitter employee was found guilty by a jury in federal court.

On Tuesday of six counts linked to allegations that he spied on the company’s users on behalf of Saudi Arabia. The charges stem from allegations that he carried out the surveillance for the Saudi government.

Ahmad Abouammo, at 44 years old, was in charge of managing media partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa when he worked at Twitter. He established connections with influential people in the area, one of whom provided him with tens of thousands of dollars and a high-end watch. These gifts came from a key advisor to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Prosecutors claim that in exchange, he gave Saudi government authorities access to the personal user information of political dissidents.

The jury decided that Mr. Abouammo was guilty on all counts after deliberating for a short time. He was found guilty of two counts of wire fraud or conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, one count of falsifying records. On five charges of wire fraud or conspiracy to conduct wire fraud, it was determined that Mr. Abouammo was found not guilty.

The judgement was delivered at a difficult time for relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as the United States is attempting to forge deeper ties with Israel while also pressuring Saudi Arabia for lower gas prices.

Human rights advocates voiced harsh condemnation of the visit, arguing that it trivialised the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post who was murdered in 2018 by Saudi agents. The visit was denounced harshly by human rights organisations.

The trial against Mr. Abouammo came to a close on Thursday, and it took the jury of six men and five women a total of 17 hours to make a decision. Following the discovery that a member of the jury had tested positive for the coronavirus, the 12th member of the panel was excused, and the parties involved in the case reached an agreement on Monday to enable 11 jurors to resolve the matter.

According to the jurors, the panel arrived at a verdict on that point that was unanimous on Tuesday morning. One of the jurors expressed her desire to the attorneys for Mr. Abouammo that Twitter had “a bit more responsibility for this.”

A Twitter representative said that the business had contacted users who could have been impacted during the trial and that they had cooperated with law authorities throughout the investigation.

In 2019, Mr. Abouammo, who had worked at Twitter between the years 2013 and 2015, was taken into custody. Ali Alzabarah, another former employee of Twitter who was also accused in connection with the conspiracy, evaded capture by leaving the country before he could be apprehended.

The prosecution accused Mr. Abouammo of being a spy who had provided Saudi Arabia with access to personal user information in exchange for money.

Hinds is responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the Northern District of California.

She continued by saying, “As this case demonstrates, we will not tolerate the misuse of personal information or attempts by foreign governments to recruit secret, malevolent agents at American technology companies.”

According to the prosecution, Mr. Abouammo conducted many searches for the personal information of additional dissidents, in addition to the Twitter user who was hiding behind the account known as Mujtahidd. On Twitter, the Mujtahidd account has more than two million followers and often expresses disapproval of Saudi Arabia’s top leadership. According to the prosecutors, Saudi agents had given Mr. Abouammo a payment of $300,000 for the information.

Seth Wilson, a Twitter security officer who testified throughout the trial that Mr. Abouammo’s accessing of users’ information had been improper, tweeted his thankfulness for the judgement. Mr. Wilson testified that Mr. Abouammo had improperly accessed the information of Twitter users.

The attorneys for Mr. Abouammo portrayed him as little more than a Twitter employee who had just been carrying out his duties. According to Mr. Abouammo’s defence, other media-partnerships managers at Twitter developed close relationships with influential people who used the platform and provided “white-glove service.”

According to Mr. Abouammo’s legal counsel, the prosecutors had not linked the fact that he accessed information and received cash with the fact that he actually shared such information.

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