Two former Twitter workers charged with spying on users for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia reportedly recruited Twitter employees to steal personal data of activists		
		
	Devin Coldewey

			@techcrunch	 
		9 hours

Saudi Arabia reportedly recruited Twitter employees to steal personal data of activists Devin Coldewey @techcrunch 9 hours

A third man charged at the same time, Ahmed Almutairi, is also facing spying charges but didn't work at Twitter. Final 12 months, the New York Occasions reported that this occasion had been prompted by a Twitter worker groomed by Saudi officers for the aim.

The charges, announced Wednesday in San Francisco, cast a fresh glare on the relations between technology companies and world governments as the former seek to operate with minimal regulation and the latter seek to cull information on private individuals.

Both ex-employees were recruited in 2014 by Saudi government officials with close ties to the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to access sensitive and non-public information of Twitter accounts associated with known Saudi critics. The 2nd, a Saudi citizen named Ali Alzabarah, fled the place a working day immediately after remaining confronted about his activities and becoming positioned on depart by Twitter in December 2015. Alzabarah has not returned to the US, investigators said. In some cases, the accounts included images that could have been construed as security threats-including images of improvised explosive devices-and Twitter removed the posts after emergency takedown requests from the Saudi government. He also accessed the account of a second Saudi critic to get personally identifiable information.

Twitter uncovered Alzabarah's unauthorized access of private data and placed him on administrative leave in late 2015, but not before he had tapped data from over 6,000 accounts, including 33 for which Saudi authorities had submitted law enforcement requests to Twitter, the complaint said.

According to the indictment, Abouammo has also been separately charged with acting as a foreign agent and providing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with falsified records to obstruct the federal investigation.

The complaint marks the first time that the kingdom, long linked to the US through its massive oil reserves and regional security arrangements, has been accused of spying in America.

Saudi Arabia subsequently expelled Canada's ambassador and froze all new trade, in a clearly combative approach to worldwide censure.

According to the Post, one of the accounts accessed by Alzabarah belonged to Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent Saudi dissident who is said to have viewed Khashoggi as a "father figure". Abouammo served as a media partnerships manager at Twitter for the Middle East and North Africa region from 2013-15.

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

Each males are believed to be in Saudi Arabia, the report stated. "We're committed to protecting those who use our service to advocate for equality, individual freedoms, and human rights", they added.

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