Thursday 09 July 2020
News ID: 72417
Publish Date: 08 November 2019 - 21:47

RIYADH (AFP) – The Saudi Arabian government has reportedly recruited two Twitter employees to get personal account information on some of their critics, prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice say.
Two former Twitter employees and a third man were charged in San Francisco Federal Court Wednesday with spying on Twitter users critical of the Saudi royal family, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
The two Saudi citizens 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.
According to a court filing, they were guided by an unnamed Saudi official who worked for someone prosecutors designated "Royal Family Member-1," which The Washington Post reported was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Those charged were Twitter employees Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, along with Ahmed Almutairi, a marketing official with ties to the royal family.
"The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter's internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users," said U.S. Attorney David Anderson.
"U.S. law protects U.S. companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion. We will not allow U.S. companies or U.S. technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of U.S. law," he said in a statement.
The lawsuit comes as U.S.-Saudi relations continue to suffer strains over the brutal, Riyadh-sanctioned murder one year ago of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for, among others, The Washington Post.
A critic of Crown Prince Mohammed, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
According to the Post, U.S. intelligence has concluded that the prince himself was closely linked to the murder.
U.S. protesters gather in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington as they call for justice in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on October 25, 2018.  

* Comment: