In a rare case of Twitter drama unrelated to its owner, a former employee convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia received a three-and-a-half-year sentence on Wednesday. Ahmad Abouammo was found guilty in August of taking bribes from an aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In return, he allegedly supplied sensitive account info that could help track and silence dissidents.
Abouammo, a US resident born in Egypt, received about half of the more than seven years prosecutors sought. The former Twitter media partnership manager said he was only doing his job, but evidence revealed that he received $300,000 and a $20,000 Hublot watch from bin Salman’s aide. A Twitter whistleblower suggested in late August that the scandal reflected a broader practice of lax data security at the company.
Two other men were charged in the scheme. Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen, is another former Twitter employee who prosecutors say acquired personal info for over 6,000 accounts, including that of high-profile dissident (and Jamal Khashoggi ally) Omar Abdulaziz. A third man, Ahmed Almutairi, was also charged but didn’t work at Twitter. Instead, he allegedly served as a contact between Twitter staffers and the Saudi government. Of the three, only Abouammo was in the US to face charges.