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Ex-Twitter worker sentenced to over 3 years in jail for spying for Saudi Arabia


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Pedestrians outdoors the Twitter headquarters on October 6, 2022 in San Francisco.

David Paul | Bloomberg | Getty Photos

A former Twitter worker convicted of spying on customers on behalf of the Saudi royal household has been sentenced to 3 and a half years in jail.

Ahmed Abumoh, a twin US-Lebanese citizen who helped oversee media partnerships for Twitter within the Center East and North Africa, was a part of a scheme for a Saudi authorities agent to acquire customers’ private info, together with cellphone numbers and dates of beginning. He was sentenced Wednesday within the US District Court docket for the Northern District of California.

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The Justice Division has stated it believes one other former Twitter worker accused of accessing consumer accounts and a person accused of serving to the Saudi authorities scheme fled to Saudi Arabia to keep away from US authorities. Is.

The Saudi authorities severely punishes anti-government expression on social media websites comparable to Twitter. In April, courts sentenced Salma al-Shahab, a Saudi nationwide and 34-year-old mom of two, to 34 years in jail for tweets opposing the federal government.

In keeping with testimony from an FBI agent introduced within the Northern District of California, a Saudi authorities agent started courting Abuammo in 2014 by giving him presents and depositing cash into his cousin’s checking account. Abouammo then started secretly accessing the accounts of customers who have been vital of the Saudi authorities, sharing their e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers with authorities brokers.

The Saudi consulate didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Even after Abuammo left Twitter in Could 2015, he contacted former colleagues to assist the Saudi authorities and encourage them to confirm particular Saudi accounts or have a Saudi agent take away posts that violated the positioning’s phrases of service. Granted, the FBI agent stated in his testimony. He obtained a whole lot of 1000’s of {dollars} and used a few of that cash to make a down cost for a home in Seattle, Wash.

The indictment highlights the menace Twitter faces from international spies who see worth within the info saved on customers and their direct communications.

All main tech corporations could be focused for intelligence gathering, and Twitter has lengthy been a selected goal, serving as an necessary platform for each protesters and dissidents world wide.

Whereas Abummo is the primary particular person convicted and sentenced for spying on Twitter on behalf of a international authorities, a former head of cybersecurity on the firm testified that the corporate had beforehand been focused by spies from a minimum of two different international locations. has been infiltrated.

Whistleblower says a Chinese government spy is working on Twitter

Peter “Madge” Zatko, Twitter’s former head of safety, filed a prolonged whistleblower criticism concerning the firm submitted to the Securities and Change Fee and the Federal Commerce Fee in July. In it, he stated he believed the governments of India, Nigeria and Russia tried to trick Twitter into selectively hiring individuals as full-time workers who would doubtlessly spy on customers.

Later, when testifying earlier than the Senate in September, Zatko stated that earlier than coming to the corporate, the FBI warned workers that Chinese language intelligence had additionally infiltrated Twitter.

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