TWO FORMER Twitter employees have been charged with spying on user accounts on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) on Wednesday accused the former staffers accessing information on Saudi dissidents who use the social networking site as part of a coordinated effort by the Saudi government.
As per The Washington Post, the DoJ alleges that Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, spied on three users in 2015, while Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen, accessed the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter users.
One of the accounts accessed by Alzabarah belonged to Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent critic of the Saudi government. Abdulaziz was close to Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was killed last year during his visit to Istanbul. In its investigation, the CIA concluded that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had personally ordered Khashoggi's murder.
The DoJ has also charged a third individual, named Ahmed Almutairi, with ties to the Saudi royal family, who they accuse of being the point person between Saudi officials and the Twitter employees.
This is the first time that the US government has formally charged Saudis citizens of spying in the United States.
"US law protects U.S. companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion," Attorney David Anderson said in a statement. "We will not allow US companies or US technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of U.S. law," he added.
Twitter thanked the DoJ and the FBI for supporting the investigation. "We recognise the lengths bad actors will go to try and undermine our service," the company said in a statement.
"We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable," it added. µ
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