A former Twitter employee was sentenced to 42 months in prison on Thursday after he was convicted of accepting bribes from a Saudi Arabian official in exchange for providing the kingdom with user information from the platform.
In August, a jury found Abouammo guilty of acting as a foreign agent without notice, money laundering and falsifying records as well as wire fraud and honest services fraud.
Ahmad Abouammo, who worked as a media partnership manager for Twitter’s Middle East and North Africa region, met with a close adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on multiple occasions, accepting thousands of dollars worth of gifts as he provided information about Saudi dissidents’ Twitter accounts, according to multiple reports, who cited court documents.
“This case revealed that foreign governments will bribe insiders to obtain the user information that is collected and stored by our Silicon Valley social media companies,” U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds said after Abouammo’s sentencing.
“In handing down today’s sentence, the Court emphasized that defendant shared the user information with a foreign government known for not tolerating dissidents, and he did so working with his even more culpable co-defendant who fled the country rather than face trial,” Hinds said.
At a 2014 meeting in London, Abouammo reportedly received a Hublot watch that he later said was valued at $42,000. Days later, he sent a Saudi official information on a Saudi dissident who tweets about alleged corruption in the kingdom’s royal family.
He later laundered a $100,000 payment from the official into the U.S. in 2015, and lied about the incident when questioned by the FBI in 2018, court documents reportedly show.
“Mr. Abouammo violated the trust placed on him to protect the privacy of individuals living in the US by giving their personal information to a foreign power for profit,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said. “His conduct was made all the more egregious by the fact that the information was intended to deny US persons of their lawful rights.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS
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