Former Twitter Employee Convicted of Crime Punishable by Death


A former Twitter employer has been found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia after he exchanged private user information for money.

Ahmad Abouammo worked for Twitter from 2013 to 2015, and he managed media partnerships with high-profile users in the Middle East and North Africa, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Along with being found guilty of selling private information, Abouammo was also found guilty of money laundering, wire fraud and falsification of records.

However, he was found innocent of five other counts of wire fraud that he was originally charged with.

The Journal reported that Abouammo got access to emails and phone numbers of Twitter accounts that criticized the Saudi Arabian government.

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He shared that private information with a Saudi official who allegedly gave Abouammo a luxury watch and hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange.

“They paid for a mole,” prosecutor Eric Cheng said in closing arguments, according to the journal. “We all know that that kind of money is not for nothing.”

Cheng also added that Abouammo took bribes that ended up being about three times more than his yearly salary. He did so for about a year.

Abouammo also gave the FBI a fake invoice to disguise a $100,000 payment from the Saudi official, Court House News Service reported.

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It took the jury about three days to come to a unanimous decision on the count of spying.

The jury, however, did not find Abouammo culpable for any of the conduct of his co-worker Ali Alzabarah, who was also charged with spying for Saudi Arabia, Court House News Service reported.

Alzabarah and Abouammo time at Twitter overlapped. Alzabarah was a site reliability engineer.

Though charged with spying for the Saudis, Alzabarah fled the country in December 2015 after management at Twitter confronted him.

He escaped FBI surveillance and Alzabarah and his family flew to Saudi Arabia. He then took a job with the Misk Foundation, which is a charity started by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Meanwhile, Abouammo, who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Lebanon, began his activities when he met Bader Binasaker, a Saudi government official and aide to MBS, according to the Daily Mail.

From there, prosecutors argued that Abouammo became a Twitter insider for Saudi Arabia.

“That luxury watch — it was not free,” Cheng said. “The kingdom had now secured its Twitter insider.”

Now, Abouammo is scheduled back in court on Wednesday.

Prosecutors and Twitter have declined to comment on the situation.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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