An American court sentences a former Twitter manager to 42 months in prison on charges of spying for Saudi Arabia

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – The US Department of Justice announced, Thursday, that a former director of Twitter, who was convicted of spying for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Ahmed Abouammo, a 45-year-old dual American-Lebanese citizen, was convicted of six criminal charges, including acting as a foreign agent of Saudi Arabia, conspiracy, and attempting to conceal payments from an official associated with the Saudi royal family.

Abu Ammo also has to pay $242,000 to cover the cost of the bribes he received for his work, which includes an hour and money, and he was also sentenced to be subject to 3 more years of probation after serving the prison sentence.

Abouammo was also convicted of participating in a fraudulent scheme to access, monitor and transfer users’ information to the royal family and Saudi Arabia. Prosecutors said Abouammo participated in a scheme to use the social media giant to collect sensitive, non-public information on dissidents from the Saudi regime.

In issuing the verdict, District Judge Edward Chen said, “It is a serious offense to disclose dissidents’ information.” He described Abouammo’s actions as “dangerous and has consequences.”

Assistant Attorney General from the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Matthew G., said Abouammo violated the trust placed in him to protect individuals’ privacy by providing their personal information to a foreign power for profit. He added, “His behavior has become more egregious because the information he provided is intended to target political opponents who speak out against that foreign country, and we are committed to holding accountable those who illegally act as unregistered foreign agents and conduct covert influence campaigns on behalf of foreign regimes.”

“This case revealed that a foreign government, the government of Saudi Arabia, would bribe insiders to obtain user information that was collected and stored by our Silicon Valley social media companies,” US Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds said.

And she added, “When issuing the ruling, the court confirmed that the defendant shared the user’s information with a foreign government known for its intolerance of dissidents, and did so by working with the most guilty defendant, who fled to Saudi Arabia instead of facing trial, and this ruling sends a message to the insiders.” Those who have access to users’ information to protect it, especially from repressive regimes, or risk a long time in prison.”

In October 2018, FBI agents questioned Abouammo at his home about his involvement in the scheme with officials in Saudi Arabia, and evidence at trial revealed that Abouammo provided false information to FBI investigators, and provided a false invoice for one of the payments made. received from the foreign official.

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