Twitter ‘committed to protecting users’ after former employees charged with spying for Saudi Arabia

Twitter ‘committed to protecting users’ after former employees charged with spying for Saudi Arabia
Twitter says it is committed to protecting users 'who hold those in power to account' after two of its former employees were charged with spying for Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
09 November, 2019
Former Twitter employees accessed the data of Saudi dissidents [Getty]
The social media network Twitter has reportedly made a statement after criminal charges were brought against two of its former employees, who are accused of spying for Saudi Arabia.

CNN Arabic reported that Twitter released an official statement saying, “We understand the great risks faced by many Twitter users who share their principles with the world and hold those in power to account. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work.”

“We are committed to protecting those who use our services to call for equality, individual freedoms, and human rights,” the statement added, according to CNN Arabic.

Read more: Meet the Saudi mastermind behind the Twitter spy scandal

Three men were charged with spying on Twitter users for Saudi Arabia, after a ruling by the San Francisco Federal Court in the United States on Wednesday. They were identified as former Twitter employees Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo as well as Ahmed Almutairi, a marketing official with ties to the Saudi royal family.

Only Abouammo, a 41-year-old man US citizen, is in custody. He was initially granted bail but this was later cancelled. Arrest warrants have been issued for the other two men, who are believed to be in Saudi Arabia.

According to Abouammo’s indictment, he repeatedly accessed the Twitter account of a prominent Saudi dissident and was able to find out his email address and telephone number.

Alzabarah, who previously lived in the US, found out information from 6000 Twitter accounts, 33 of which Saudi authorities submitted law enforcement requests to Twitter on, according to the US indictment.

Twitter found out about Alzabarah’s unauthorised data access in late 2015 and placed him on administrative leave. He later fled the United States.

The three men charged by the San Francisco Federal Court are believed to have been recruited by Saudi authorities between 2014 and 2015.

Last year, Twitter’s office in Dubai gave Saudi authorities information which led to the arrest of Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser, a journalist who ran the Kashkool Twitter account, which exposed human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jasser later died under torture in Saudi detention.

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