This Former Twitter Employee Has Been Sentenced To Prison For Spying For Saudi Arabia

According to US justice officials, a former Twitter employee convicted of spying for Saudi officials was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on Thursday.

According to a copy of the verdict, Ahmad Abouammo was found guilty in August on criminal charges including money laundering, fraud, and acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government. Prosecutors told jurors in federal court in San Francisco that Abouammo sold Twitter user information for cash and an expensive watch seven years ago.

Abouammo received about half of the more than seven years’ restitution prosecutors sought. The former Twitter media partnership manager said he was only doing his job, but evidence revealed that he received $300,000 and a $20,000 Hublot watch from bin Salman’s aide. A Twitter whistleblower suggested in late August that the scandal reflected a broader practice of lax data security at the company.

Two other men were charged in the scheme. Another former Twitter employee, Saudi citizen Ali Alzabarah, is accused of obtaining personal information for over 6,000 accounts, including that of high-profile dissident (and Jamal Khashoggi supporter) Omar Abdulaziz. A third man, Ahmed Almutairi, was also charged but did not work at Twitter. Instead, he allegedly acted as a liaison between Twitter employees and the Saudi government. Only Abouammo was in the US to face charges.

Abouammo’s lawyers had argued that the work Abouammo did at Twitter was simply part of his job. Abouammo was also convicted of wire fraud and honest services fraud, money laundering, and a conspiracy charge. Jurors acquitted him on five of the 11 counts he faced.

US district court Judge Edward said while pronouncing the sentence that “exposing dissident information is a serious offense” and ordered Abouammo to forfeit the value of “bribes” received, according to prosecutors. Abouammo is to begin serving his sentence at the end of March.

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