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two former Twitter employees charged with spying for Saudi Arabia

These revelations come in a particularly tense context between Washington and Ryad.

They are accused of providing Ryad with information about Internet users critical of the Saudi royal family. Two former employees of Twitter and a Saudi have been indicted in the United States for harvesting and providing Saudi Arabia with information on users of the social network, announced the US authorities Wednesday, November 6.

VSes lawsuits pose a new time the question of the ability of the California giant to protect the confidential data of its users, especially against the attacks of repressive regimes. “These Saudi agents searched Twitter's internal systems for personal information about opponents of the Saudi regime and thousands of other users” of the social network, said in a statement David Anderson, federal prosecutor in California“We will not let American companies or technologies become tools of repression for foreign regimes”, he added.

“We are aware of the efforts made by bad actors to try to attack our service,” said a spokesman for Twitter. We limit access to sensitive information to a limited number of employees. “The social network also claimed to have the necessary tools to protect its users.

The three indicted are two former Twitter employees, an American and a Saudi, and another Saudi national accused of serving as an intermediary. According to reports, the investigators, Ali Alzabarah, a 35-year-old Saudi, and Ahmad Abouammo, a 41-year-old American, used their Twitter status to obtain email addresses, IP addresses, phone numbers, or phone numbers. birthdays of Twitter accounts and to have transmitted this data to Ryad.

In 2015, the former provided data on at least 6,000 accounts, including an opponent of the Saudi royal family who were refugees in Canada, according to the indictment. The second would have spied several accounts between late 2014 and early 2015, in exchange for a luxury watch and at least $ 300,000. And the third suspect, Ahmed Almutairi, a 30-year-old Saudi national, is accused of serving as an intermediary between the two men and the government of his country. He also allegedly helped Ali Alzabarah flee the United States at the end of 2015, after the first questions formulated by the hierarchy of Twitter.

The lawsuit comes as relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia remain strained more than a year after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose Mohammed bin Salman was held responsible by a UN expert and the CIA. The Saudi journalist, who was cooperating for the Washington Post, was killed and dismembered on October 2, 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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