Ex-Twitter Staffers Accused Of Spying For Saudia Arabia 11/08/2019

Mike Davis  Flickr

Saudi Arabia, frustrated by growing criticism of its leaders and policies on social media, recruited two Twitter employees to spy on thousands of accounts that included prominent opponents, prosecutors alleged Wednesday.

The 26-page indictment alleges that Abouammo, who worked as Twitter's Middle East media partnership manager, was part of a coordinated effort to look into the private data of thousands of Twitter accounts. It appeared to link Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful 34-year-son of King Salman, to the effort.

A complaint filed by the department on Wednesday states that the two are a Saudi and an American. He is charged as acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the USA attorney general, and with "destruction, adjustment or falsifications of records in a federal investigation" over allegations that, while FBI agents waited to question him downstairs, he hastily printed out a phony consulting contract to justify a $100,000 payment from a Saudi official the agents had asked him about.

The complaint marks the first time that the kingdom, considered a USA ally through its massive oil reserves and regional security arrangements, has been accused of spying in America.

The two Saudis and one U.S. citizen allegedly worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the government in Riyadh and the royal family, the department said.

Abouammo was also charged with falsifying documents and making false statements to obstruct FBI investigators - offenses that carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison if convicted.

The prince has said that he bears ultimate responsibility for what happens in the kingdom's name, although he has denied orchestrating the slaying.

READ: Testimony Of Fiona Hill, Ex-White House Russia Policy Official
Trump insists he did nothing wrong. "But this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo, and he still said that". The familiar dustup between the president and the news outlet comes less than a week before the U.S.

The platform is the main place for Saudis to express their views, and about a third of the nation's 30 million people are active users. However, the free-wheeling nature of Twitter is a major source of concern for its authoritarian government, Coogle said.

Ryan Kalember, the executive vice president of cybersecurity strategy for Proofpoint, said companies like Twitter should focus on detecting abnormal behavior by employees.

The complaint accuses the Saudi former employee of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015. According to the Associated Press, Abouammo was ordered to remain in custody pending a detention hearing to be held on Friday. It is not clear who is representing Abouammo, and CNN has been unable to locate Alzabarah and Almutairi for comment. At the same time, Almutairi posted a photograph of himself with a member of the Saudi royal family in Washington, D.C.

"These individuals are charged with targeting and obtaining private data from dissidents and known critics, under the direction and control of the government of Saudi Arabia", said FBI Special Agent John Bennett.

Authorities say Alzabarah "began to access without authorization private data of Twitter users en masse" a week after traveling to Washington, D.C. and staying at "rental lodging" where a Saudi foreign official-described as a member of the Saudi Arabian Royal Court-was staying.

Alzabarah was placed on administrative leave, his work-owned laptop was seized, and he was escorted out of the office.

Melley reported from Los Angeles.

Related News:



Most liked

Facebook is deleting the name of the potential whistleblower
Breitbart is one of the top-performing publishers on Facebook and was recently designated as an official Facebook News partner. CNN reports that Facebook and YouTube have chose to remove posts with the name, while Twitter - where US House Rep.

Inoue defeats Donaire in Entire world Boxing Tremendous Collection final
Inoue looked clearly faster throughout the fight, but Donaire (40-6, 26 KO) was unsafe , and not just from his vaunted left hook. Asked about Donaire recovering from the knockdown in the 11th round, Inoue said, "Donaire was a true champion.

Instagram to test hiding 'like' counts on some U.S. accounts
He added that Instagram doesn't have any scientific proof that hiding likes will improve mental health. The count will still be visible to the creator of the post, but others won't be able to see it.

Researchers identify new strain of HIV
Latest genome sequencing technology allows researchers to build an entire genome at higher speeds and lower costs. The findings have been published Wednesday in the Journal of Obtained Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

KFC finds #KFCProposal couple who are now flooded by sponsors
On Thursday KFC publicly thanked Malobola for "capturing the lovely moment" and sharing it with the world. KFC could not immediately be reached for comment.

ICC sentences DRC rebel chief Ntaganda to 30 years in prison
The ICC's focus so far on Africa has angered some on the continent who see the worldwide body as unfairly targeting Africans. Ntaganda, nicknamed "Terminator", was convicted on 18 counts including murder , rape and conscripting child soldiers.

Ranked Barty 'extremely hungry' for Fed Cup final win
Australia has played France six times in Fed Cup history and has a 5-1 edge, but lost when the teams last played in France in 2000.

Mount in Chelsea's squad for Palace game
Judging by Lampard's comments, it looks as if Mount might not be risked against Crystal Palace and will instead start on the bench.

Target Is Kicking Off Their Black Friday Deals Tomorrow
This is the biggest sale of the year! Best Buy is kicking off its Black Friday sales early this year for its sixth year running . The bundled deal is a serious case of deja-vu, because it's literally the exact same bundle and price as previous year .

Bolivian mayor beaten, dragged through streets
Mayor Patricia Arce of the governing Mas party was handed over to police in Vinto after several hours, the BBC reported. Amid shouts of "murderess, murderess" masked men dragged her through the streets barefoot to the bridge.

Carmelo Anthony Couldn't Save Syracuse vs. Virginia ACC Opener
Mangakahia was on the bench last night in the Carrier Dome for the season opener in support of her teammates. Virginia owns a three-game winning streak in the series, including a 79-53 win at Syracuse last season.

Selena Gomez + Sister Attend 'Frozen 2' Premiere
Both Selena Gomez and her adorable little sister, Gracie, looked like winter princesses in their matching outfits. Selena has made sure to look out for her younger sister, and previously hailed as "strong, bold and beautiful".

Washington Will Withhold Trent Willams' $5.1M Salary
Drafted fourth overall by Washington in 2010, Williams has started 119 of 120 games over nine National Football League seasons. With the information coming out, it's safe to say that Williams' tenure in the nation's capital is coming to an abrupt halt.

Eoin Morgan hails England's batsmen after New Zealand victory
England had smashed an fantastic 241-3 in their 20 overs in the fourth Twenty20 global at McLean Park in Napier on Friday evening. Malan came to the crease and immediately dominated following the dismissal of Jonny Bairstow (8) in the fourth over.

Vietnamese teenagers among victims who died in truck trailer in Britain
The 31 men and eight women are believed to have paid people traffickers for their clandestine transit into England . He also urged global cooperation "to eliminate this especially unsafe crime. and seriously punish the criminals".