Saudi man in the US charged with 'lying' about threatening dissidents via Instagram: report

Saudi man in the US charged with 'lying' about threatening dissidents via Instagram: report
Ibrahim Alhussayen, a Saudi man who has lived in the US since 2013, has been charged with lying to prosecutors over allegedly using social media accounts to harass and threaten Saudi citizens in the country, most of whom were women.
2 min read
29 June, 2022
Ibrahim Alhussayen used an anonymous account on Instagram to intimidate his targets [Getty]

A Saudi man has been charged in the US with lying to federal officials over claims he used social media accounts to harass dissidents, reported The New York Times on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say that 42-year-old Ibrahim Alhussayen used an anonymous Instagram account to intimidate Saudi citizens living in the US and Canada, who were critical of the kingdom's leadership, the American daily said.

Most of the dissidents Alhussayen allegedly harassed were women, according to the complaint unsealed in a Brooklyn, New York federal court.

The Saudi national was charged with making false statements and hiding material facts. Prosecutors said Alhussayen claimed he had no social media accounts during three interviews with agents between June 2021 and January this year.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of deploying a "troll farm", where fake social media accounts target accounts criticising the kingdom's leadership.

The complaint stated that Alhussayen sent private messages in English and Arabic to make warnings such as: "If you have not been raised well by your family, we will discipline you" and "MbS will wipe you of the face of the earth, you will see".

He also allegedly targeted a woman who had criticised the Saudi Sports Minister and close ally of MbS Turki Al-Sheikh.

Alhussayen was reportedly in contact with an employee of the kingdom's sports ministry, while Al-Sheikh is an advisor for Mohammed bin Salman.

He is also accused of threatening other women, including a woman who applied for asylum in the US as her family threatened to kill her, saying that he "would spit in her face".

The charges come as President Joe Biden is due to travel to the Gulf kingdom next month, as part of his first trip to the Middle East as president of the United States. However, Biden has insisted that his priorities are related to oil production and helping extend a truce in war-torn Yemen.

Human rights campaigners have criticised the upcoming trip, labelling it a "big mistake" in light of Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record, exacerbated by the murder of Saudi journalist, and critic Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, who wrote for The Washington Post.