For spying on Saudi Arabia, an ex-Twitter employee receives a 3.5-year US prison sentence


United States prosecutors said on Wednesday that a former manager of Twitter Inc. who was found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia by sharing user data several years ago and potentially exposing users to persecution was given a sentence of three and a half years in prison.

After a trial in a federal court in San Francisco, a jury in August found Ahmad Abouammo guilty.

With the claim that they wanted a “sentence strong enough to deter others in the technology and social media industry from selling out the data of vulnerable users,” the prosecution had requested a sentence of just over seven years in prison.

Abouammo faced a maximum prison term of decades. The attorneys for Abouammo had asked US District Judge Edward Chen for a probationary sentence with no prison time at his home in Seattle.

They cited Abouammo’s ongoing health issues, lack of other convictions, and family issues as factors that had influenced him during his time working at Twitter from 2013 to 2015.

Abouammo’s efforts to look up information on two Twitter users, a $42,000 watch he got from a Saudi official, and two $100,000 wire transfers were the focus of the case.

According to the prosecution, Abouammo, who was in charge of Twitter’s relationships with celebrities and journalists in the Middle East and North Africa, shared sensitive information from the company’s systems with Saudi officials in order to help them locate Twitter users who might face persecution.

Abouammo’s federal public defenders did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment.

Both the Saudi Embassy in Washington and Twitter, which Elon Musk recently purchased, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Abouammo’s attorneys stated in their request for sentencing that while Abouammo was on Twitter, his family had been “struggling to pay for and deal with serious upheavals in his sister’s life,” including specialized medical care for her newborn daughter.

Abouammo’s actions, according to the lawyers, paled in comparison to those of Ali Alzabarah, another former employee of Twitter who was accused of accessing thousands of Twitter accounts on Saudi Arabia’s behalf.

Before being charged, Alzabarah left the United States.

Leave A Reply