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Twitter really is on a bumpy ride right now. Aside from its current legal battle against Elon Musk and the recent announcement about a vulnerability that could expose user identities, it is now revealed that it faced an espionage incident involving a former employee who spied for the government of Saudi Arabia.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Ahmad Abouammo, a US resident, is found guilty of spying on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government, causing him to face up to 20 years in prison. The judgment for the case was brought to the San Francisco federal court, where he was also convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, falsifying records, and money laundering.
The case also involved Twitter engineer Ali Alzabarah, who successfully fled to Saudi Arabia to escape the trial. Alzabarah and another individual named Ahmed Almutairi, who allegedly took part in the act, are now wanted in the US.
Abouammo used to work for Twitter as a media partnerships manager from 2014 to 2015, where his major responsibility was to help specific individuals to promote their accounts. Unfortunately, the position also gave Abouammothe chance to access other Twitter users’ information, such as birthdates, email addresses, and phone numbers. Abouammo and Alzabarah were then approached by Mohammed bin Salman’s government to gather the information of specific users it was observing in exchange for some luxury gifts and cash.
The transmission of the details then happened between November 2014 and May 2015. However, Abouammo argued in the trial that he only accessed the said information because it was part of his daily duties at Twitter and even blamed the company for failing to secure the users’ data.