A former Twitter employee who was accused of espionage for Saudi Arabia has been found guilty, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Ahmad Abouammo, an American citizen, was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, fabricating records, and money laundering. The maximum sentence he faces is 20 years in prison.
From 2014 to 2015, Abouammo worked for the corporation on media relationships in the Middle East.
Based on the lawsuit, he and another Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, were offered cash and luxury goods for their assistance.
Their objective was to collect personal data on relevant Twitter users. Alzabarah, a corporate engineer, moved to Saudi Arabia to avoid prosecution.
In 2015, Twitter warned some users that their accounts had been targeted by state-sponsored actors because of his ties to the Saudi government.
During the trial, the prosecution stated that a major member of Mohammed bin Salman's regime asked Abouammo for assistance in probing his adversaries.
During the course of this cooperation, Abouammo allegedly gathered personal information, including the birth dates, email addresses, and phone numbers of Saudi government critics, and forwarded this information to his connections in Saudi Arabia.
The defense for Abouammo asserted that he simply accessed the information in the course of his regular activities at Twitter.
"The government proved, and the jury agreed, that Abouammo breached a sacred trust by selling sensitive consumer information to a foreign government," said U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds in a statement.
The U.S. maintains a cordial relationship with the Saudi government despite the abundance of evidence that the crown prince ordered the murder to silence a political adversary.
According to the report, the prosecution was not permitted to instruct the jury directly about the brutal punishment meted out to Saudi Arabia's critics.
The case underscores concerns over the possibility of account information exploitation by social media company employees.
Twitter previously claimed that it restricted data access to verified workers and had "technologies in place" to protect user privacy, but it is now evident that these precautions were ineffective.
In 2018, Saudi government operatives murdered and dismembered Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post, a resident of Virginia, and an outspoken critic of the regime.
U.S. President Joe Biden stated in July that Salman denied personal responsibility for the murder of Khashoggi. Biden stated that he pushed back and informed Salman that this was the case.