Alwaght- A US court has charged two Twitter employees with spying after they got personal account information on some of critics of the Saudi regime.
The US Justice Department announced on Wednesday that two former Twitter employees and a third man were charged in San Francisco Federal Court Wednesday with spying on thousands of Twitter users critical of Al Saud.
The two Saudi citizens and one US 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.
One of the former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of spying and falsifying an invoice to obstruct an FBI investigation. He is a US citizen. The other former employee, a Saudi citizen named Ali Alzabarah, was accused of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Saudi regime.
Alzabarah accessed accounts of a number of prominent government critics including that of Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent journalist with more than 1 million followers who was close to slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a US resident, was killed by the Saudi regime last year. According to the Washington Post, US intelligence has concluded that the prince himself was closely linked to the murder.
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.
The US justice department also declared that the employees – whose jobs did not require access to Twitter users’ private information – were rewarded with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts.
"US law protects US companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion. We will not allow US companies or US technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of US law," US Attorney David Anderson said in a statement.