Ex-Twitter employee sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for serving as SPY for Saudi Arabia
Department of Justice
officials have announced Thursday, December 15, that a former Twitter employee convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison
The former Twitter employee in question is Ahmad Abouammo. The jury of a federal court in San Francisco found him guilty back in August
on criminal counts, including fraud, money laundering and being an illegal agent of a foreign government. (Related: Latest "Twitter Files" drop proves Twitter has SECRET BLACKLISTS of prominent conservatives
During the trial, prosecutors presented the court with evidence that, Abouammo sold Twitter user information to Saudi officials seven years ago in exchange for cash and an expensive watch.
"The case revealed that foreign governments, here, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will bribe insiders to obtain the user information that is collected and stored by our Silicon Valley social media companies
," said U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds in a statement. "This sentence sends a message to insiders with access to user information to safeguard it, particularly from repressive regimes, or risk significant time in prison."
Hinds and other prosecutors originally wanted the court to give Abouammo a prison sentence of over seven years. They wanted the sentence to be strong enough "to deter others in the technology and social media industry from selling out the data of vulnerable users." The maximum penalty for all of the charges could have seen Abouammo spend decades in prison.
Abouammo helped Saudi officials identify and locate Twitter users
While Abouammo was an employee of Twitter, he oversaw the company's relationships with journalists, celebrities and other notable individuals hailing from the Middle East and North Africa.
He used his position to pass on sensitive information from the company's systems to help Saudi Arabian officials identify and locate Twitter users of interest, potentially exposing them to persecution.
Furthermore, prosecutors were able to prove that Abouammo had received around $100,000 in cash and a watch valued at more than $40,000 from someone close to Saudi de facto ruler and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Abouammo and his attorneys conceded that he had received money and luxury goods from Saudi citizens. But his defense team argued they were nothing more than gifts from wealthy, free-spending Saudis who wanted to show their appreciation.
Defense attorney Angela Chuang, part of Abouammo's legal team, said that the gift and the money amounted to nothing more than "pocket change" to the Saudis who she claimed were culturally known for their propensity for generosity and bequeathing lavish presents.
Chuang further admitted that while there certainly does appear to be a conspiracy on the part of the Saudi government to obtain revealing information about the kingdom's critics from Twitter, she claimed that prosecutors failed to definitively prove Abouammo was part of this scheme.
Chuang and Abouammo's other attorneys asked U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen for a probationary sentence at his home in Seattle with no prison time, citing Abouammo's ongoing health concerns, lack of convictions and other family issues.
Jurors found Abouammo guilty on six of the 11 charges against him. Chen, while pronouncing his sentence, said that "exposing dissident information is a serious offense" and ordered him to forfeit the value of the bribes he received. Abouammo is set to begin serving his sentence at the end of March 2023.
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Watch this clip from Newsmax
discussing how new Twitter owner Elon Musk has disbanded Twitter's censorship committee
, known as the "Trust and Safety Council."
This video is from the News Clips channel on Brighteon.com.
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