A few months ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced his plans to purchase Twitter for billions of dollars. Although a large sum of money, which the billionaire had, many criticized him for wanting to be the single owner of a social media platform. While Musk isn’t the first person to own an entire social media site, some suggested that allowing him to purchase Twitter could be dangerous in the long run. The purchase was eventually put on hold, with lawyers getting involved. But while Twitter criticized Musk and his attempts to back out, they are incredibly silent on Ahmad Abouammo.
For those who might not know, after a trial that lasted over two weeks, Abouammo, who was a media partnership manager for Twitter in the Middle East, was found guilty on six charges. The charges accused him of being an agent for Saudi Arabia without registering with the United States government. Other charges included acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government, fraud, and money laundering. The Lebanese-US national eventually left Twitter to work for Amazon in 2015.
After the ruling, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds released a statement, saying, “the government demonstrated, and the jury found, that Abouammo violated a sacred trust to keep private personal information from Twitter’s customers and sold private customer information to a foreign government.”
The original complaint made to the FBI exposed not just Abouammo, but other key employees like Ali Alzabarah, who was an engineer at Twitter. During their time at the company, both parties used their positions to access confidential data on certain users. The data included emails, phone numbers, and IP addresses. All three can be used to track a person’s location.
Supposedly acting as an intermediary between the agents and the Saudi royal family was another Saudi man named Ahmed Al-Mutairi. In the complaint made to the FBI, the men were accused of accessing data for over 6,000 Twitter accounts.
For Abouammo, working with Saudi Arabia came with a nice payday. Prosecutors claimed that he made a staggering $300,000. That wasn’t all as he was gifted a luxury car and a watch estimated to be worth around $20,000. His defense team claimed that Abouammo accepted the gifts for doing his job and only received $100,000 from someone close to the prince.
On the other side, Prosecutors continued to unravel the story, stating that a close adviser to Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Bader Al-Asaker, recruited Abouammo to help find dirt on some enemies of Saudi Arabia.