Saudis Recruited Twitter Employees to Spy on Critics

Employees accessed accounts of critics to get identifiable information

According to the US Justice Department, three people, including two former employees of Twitter and a third man who was working for the Saudi royal family, face charges related to spying for Saudi Arabia without registering as foreign agents.

The former Twitter employees, identified as Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, allegedly repeatedly accessed the accounts of Twitter members who were critical of the Saudi royal family, viewing phone numbers and email addresses linked with the accounts and getting other personal identifiable data.

All told, Twitter uncovered unauthorized data access of over 6,000 accounts, including at least 33 that the Saudis had already tried to get directly from Twitter in the past. The employees were given cash and other rewards by the Saudis for the information.

The Trump Administration has not commented directly so far. The Saudi kingdom, likewise, has not commented on the matter one way or another.

Either way, this is likely to add fuel to the fire for those in Congress who oppose continuing to sell the Saudis arms, and want to limit the Saudis’ abuse of US ties to get away with such actions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of