A former Twitter employee has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia. According to reports, the ex-employee – who was 47 years old – had access to a database called the “Firehose” that showed real-time data from Twitter’s servers including private information of people who sometimes made public posts on Twitter.
Ahmad Abouammo, 45, was recently convicted for his crimes this past August. His list of offenses includes but is not limited to money laundering, fraud, falsifying records, and being an illegal agent of a foreign government.
Abouammo was arrested for a crime he committed against Saudi Arabia on November 5th, 2019. He had previously worked for Twitter from 2013-2015 where he misused the company’s private system by collecting information on people criticizing Saudi Arabia on Twitter; this made him an enemy of the country.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, also said Mr. Abouammo violated his duty to maintain privacy over those who were entrusted to his care by sharing private information with a different foreign entity for monetary gain.
His behavior became even more upsetting because he had been targeting people who were dissenting from the government – ” it turned out to be a foreign entity”.
Evidence demonstrated that Abouammo, who was employed as a Media Partner Relations Manager for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, accepted compensation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to deliver identifying information related to dissidents and critics. Due to this illegal act, they were at risk of being persecuted – specifically those who are against the government or human rights issues.
A Bank account belonging to Abouammo’s Father in Lebanon was recently credited with a total of 200,000 USD worth of funds. Half the money was transferred over to America hidden through the use of small wire transfers labeled falsely as they were moved from place to place across borders. The other 50k went towards funding Abouammo’s extravagant lifestyle here where he spent it on an expensive watch which he then sold off quickly on Craigslist for 42k cash.
As part of his sentence, Abouammo will be forfeiting $242,000 and reporting for his sentence on March 31st, 2023 in order to begin serving his prison term.
Another ex-Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, has also been accused of accessing private data on Twitter accounts that are critical of the Iranian regime. In December 2015 he fled the United States before being charged.
Revealed on Wednesday, this unfortunate incident was reported by Mr. Mudge Zatko who served as Twitter’s chief of security until he left last year. He claimed that the Chinese and Indian governments had tried to force the company to hire their respective agents and potentially access