Ex Twitter employee found guilty of spying on Saudi Arabia has been jailed for 3.5 years. He has been detained for sharing data pertaining to specific individuals from Saudi Arabia.
Earlier in August, Ahmad Abouammo, 45, was convicted on various criminal counts, including money laundering, fraud, falsifying records, and being an illegal agent of a foreign government.
In November of 2019, Abouammo was arrested because he allegedly abused his access to Twitter’s internal systems to gather information about the social media platform’s critics in Saudi Arabia. He was employed as a contract software engineer at Twitter from 2013 to 2015.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said, “Mr. Abouammo violated the trust placed on him to protect the privacy of individuals by giving their personal information to a foreign power for profit.”
Further adding, “His conduct was made all the more egregious by the fact that the information was intended to target political dissidents speaking out against that foreign power.”
During the August trial, evidence was presented that Abouammo received cash from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in return for conveying identifying information related to dissidents who opposed them. This could have exposed them to persecution by their government.
Abouammo opened a bank account in the name of his father in Lebanon, which received $200,000 from two separate transfers. He laundered half of this amount by sending small wire transfers to the U.S. with false descriptions. He also received a luxury watch that he sold on Craigslist for $42,000.
Abouammo will forfeit $242,000 and surrender himself on March 31, 2023, to serve the term of his sentence.
For example, another former Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, left the country in December 2015 to avoid charges of acquiring private information on accounts that were critical of the government.
Yesterday, Twitter’s former head of security, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, blew the whistle on serious security failings at the company and talked about potential government involvement( Chinese and Indian) in their hiring practices.