Two former employees of Twitter and a third man from Saudi Arabia face U.S. charges of spying for the kingdom by digging up private user data and giving it to Saudi officials in exchange for payment, according to a complaint filed on Wednesday. Chris Dignam has more.
Two former Twitter employees were charged on Wednesday with spying for Saudi Arabia by digging up private user data and giving it to Saudi officials in exchange for payment.
That’s according to a complaint filed in San Francisco by the U.S. Justice Department, which said they have also charged a third man from Saudi Arabia, who worked for the Saudi royal family.
The Washington Post, citing court papers, reported that one of those implicated in the scheme is an associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who U.S. intelligence officials concluded likely ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last year.
According to the complaint, one of the former Twitter employees repeatedly accessed the account of a prominent critic of the Saudi royal family in early 2015, and was able to view the email address and telephone number associated with that account.
He also accessed the account of a second Saudi critic to get information that “could have been used to identify and locate the Twitter users.”
The Justice Department said that former Twitter employee is under arrest in Seattle, Washington, while the other two charged in the case are in Saudi Arabia.
Twitter said that it was grateful to the FBI and DOJ, saying in a statement: “We recognize the lengths bad actors will go to try and undermine our service. We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable.”