SAN FRANCISCO — A former Twitter employee was convicted Tuesday by a jury in federal court on six charges related to allegations that he spy on the company’s users for Saudi Arabia.
At Twitter, Ahmad Abouammo, 44, managed media partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa. He developed relationships with prominent figures in the region and received hundreds of thousands of dollars and a luxury watch from a top adviser to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. In return, prosecutors said, he shared dissidents’ personal user information with Saudi officials.
The jury convicted Mr Abouammo on two counts of telephone fraud or conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, one count of falsifying data and one count of acting as an agent of a foreign government without properly disclosing that work. to make. It ruled that Mr Abouammo was not guilty of five counts of wire transfer fraud or conspiracy to commit wire transfer fraud.
The trial of Mr Abouammo closed on Thursday and the jury of six men and five women took 17 hours to reach a verdict.
Mr Abouammo was arrested in 2019. Ali Alzabarah, another former Twitter employee who was also charged over the scheme, fled the country before he could be arrested. Several of the charges from which Mr Abouammo was acquitted related to communications between Mr Alzabarah and Saudi officials, suggesting that the jury was not convinced that Mr Abouammo influenced his colleague’s actions.
Prosecutors described Mr Abouammo as a mole who sold his access to personal user information to Saudi Arabia. Saudi representatives paid Mr Abouammo to obtain and share information about political dissidents and other Twitter users, prosecutors said.
“Flow. Greed. Lies. You’ve heard this story, told by the evidence, right here in this courtroom,” Eric Cheng, an assistant attorney in the US, said in closing statements.
Lawyers for Mr Abouammo described him as just a Twitter employee who had done his job. Prosecutors had not linked access to information and receiving payments from Mr Abouammo with actually sharing that information, his lawyers said.
“Even if you think Mr Abouammo may or may have done it, you should vote not guilty,” Angela Chuang, a federal public defender representing Mr Abouammo and a lead attorney in the case, said in closing statements.