10:48 GMT13 August 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US authorities charged two former Twitter employees with spying for Saudi Arabia and providing information on critics of the government, media reported Wednesday, citing unsealed complaint in US District Court in San Francisco.

    Ahmad Abouammo has been charged for spying on the accounts of three users of which one discussed the inner workings of the Saudi leadership and Ali Alzabarah has been charged with accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Riyadh.

    The accounts included those of a popular critic of the government with more than 1 million followers and a news personality, AP said, citing court documents.

    "The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users", US Attorney David Anderson was quoted as saying in the report.

    According to AP,  the complaint also alleged that the employees - whose jobs did not require access to Twitter users' private information - were rewarded with luxury gifts and tens of thousands of dollars funneled into secret bank accounts. They were charged with acting as agents of Saudi Arabia without registering with the US government, AP said.

    Abouammo, a US citizen, was reportedly arrested on Tuesday, while Alzabarah is believed to depart for his native Saudi Arabia after he was reportedly placed on administrative leave.

    The complaint also cited unnamed analysts who said they believe the case could be the first in which Saudis have been accused of spying in the United States.

    A Twitter spokesman said the company restricted access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees and assured the authorities and the public it has instituted tools in place to protect user privacy.


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    charges, spying, United States, Twitter, Saudi Arabia
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