In an espionage case that stretched from Silicon Valley to the Middle East, a former Twitter employee was found guilty of failing to register as an agent for Saudi Arabia and other offences after obtaining private information on users who were critical of the kingdom’s administration.
American citizen Ahmad Abouammo, a former media relationship manager for Twitter’s Middle East region, was accused of serving as a Saudi Arabian agent without first registering with the U.S. government in 2019. He was found guilty by a jury on six counts, including money laundering and conspiracy to conduct wire fraud. On five further wire fraud allegations, the jury exonerated him.
The kingdom, which has long been connected to the United States through its enormous oil wealth and regional security arrangements, was accused of spying in America for the first time in this case.
Abouammo and Saudi national Ali Alzabarah, who worked as an engineer at Twitter, were accused in a 2019 FBI complaint of using their positions to access private Twitter information about users, including their email addresses, phone numbers, and IP addresses, the latter of which can be used to pinpoint a user’s location.
Ahmed Al-Mutairi, a third person listed in the lawsuit, was a Saudi national who was said to have served as an intermediary for the Saudi royal family.