Former Twitter employees charged with spying on users for Saudi Arabia

Exterior of glass-walled office building with Twitter logo on a column

Two former Twitter workers from Saudi Arabia have been charged with spying for funneling inside details about customers of the social media web site to an agent of the Center Jap kingdom, federal officers stated Wednesday. Final 12 months, the New York Occasions reported that this occasion had been prompted by a Twitter worker groomed by Saudi officers for the aim.

"We would like to thank the FBI and the US Department of Justice for their support with this investigation", a Twitter spokesperson told The Register.

Two former Twitter employees were secretly spies for Saudi Arabia and monitored the Twitter accounts of thousands of users, the Department of Justice said in a criminal complaint filed yesterday (Nov. 5).

The charges were unveiled earlier in the day in San Francisco in a case that will likely raise concerns about US relations with ally Saudi Arabia and the threat of autocrats spying on users via Silicon Valley-based web platforms.

The charges alleged that Almutairi acted as an intermediary between the two Twitter employees and Saudi officials. Another Saudi royal family critic's account was also accessed and the user's personal data were retrieved.

It adds a caveat that such information could also be shared "in response to a valid emergency request" - what the Saudi authorities appear to have used as a default.

Anderson also said in the statement that United States laws protect U.S. companies from such illegal foreign penetration, adding that they won't allow USA companies or technology to be used as a tool for external repression and violations of USA laws. The US Attorney's Office said in a court filing it wants Abouammo detained pending trial because of a "serious risk" of flight. Abouammo, who left Twitter in 2015 and moved to Seattle, was given more than $300,000 in exchange for his espionage, according to the USA government. Abouammo is also charged with falsifying a record to impede an investigation.

"We recognize the lengths bad actors will go to try and undermine our service", Twitter said in a statement.

The complaint said Almutairi recruited Alzabarah and flew him to Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2015, when a Saudi delegation visited the White House.

Omar Abdulaziz, living in exile in Canada, claimed the hack led Saudi agents to discover plans for a social media protest that he was planning previous year with Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

He was confronted by his supervisors and placed on administrative leave before fleeing to Saudi Arabia with his wife and daughter, investigators said.

Alzabarah quit Twitter in December 2015, returned to Saudi Arabia, and worked for the royal family. We acknowledge the lengths risky actors will go to try to undermine our service. "We're committed to protecting those who use our service to advocate for equality, individual freedoms, and human rights".