From a Justice Division assertion launched yesterday:
A federal jury yesterday convicted a former Media Partnerships Supervisor for the Center East/North Africa (MENA) area at Twitter of performing as a international agent with out discover to the Legal professional Basic, conspiracy, wire fraud, worldwide cash laundering, and falsification of data in a federal investigation. The decision follows a two-week trial earlier than the Honorable Senior U.S. District Decide Edward M. Chen for the Northern District of California.
Based on courtroom paperwork and proof offered at trial, Ahmad Abouammo, 44, previously of Walnut Creek, California, and at the moment residing in Seattle, was employed at Twitter as Media Partnerships Supervisor for the MENA area. The proof at trial demonstrated that Abouammo took bribes in change for accessing, monitoring, and conveying the personal info of Twitter customers to officers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Royal household. On this place, Abouammo was liable for defending Twitter consumer info and owed Twitter his trustworthy providers. Twitter insurance policies additionally required Abouammo to reveal violations of Twitter’s safety insurance policies and report items from these with enterprise dealings with the corporate. When questioned in regards to the accesses of Twitter consumer info and his receipt of bribes, Abouammo then lied to FBI investigators and falsified a doc.
“Abouammo acted in secret as an agent of a international authorities focusing on dissenting voices,” stated Assistant Legal professional Basic Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Division’s Nationwide Safety Division. “This verdict reveals that the Justice Division won’t tolerate any act of transnational repression and can maintain accountable those that assist hostile regimes in extending their attain to our shores.”
“The Northern District of California is dwelling to most of the most progressive know-how firms on the planet,” stated U.S. Legal professional Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California. “One consequence of this luck is that firms on this district usually acquire and retailer huge quantities of information from clients and distributors. On this case, the federal government demonstrated, and the jury discovered, that Abouammo violated a sacred belief to maintain personal private info from Twitter’s clients and offered personal buyer info to a international authorities. Abouammo’s resolution to simply accept bribes in change for offering to a international authorities the protected info of consumers may have untold damaging penalties. As this case demonstrates, we won’t tolerate the misuse of non-public info or makes an attempt by international governments to recruit secret, malign brokers at American know-how firms. The place such misuse violates the federal regulation, offenders will probably be prosecuted.”
“Any makes an attempt by international governments to hijack free speech—in social media or any type—won’t be tolerated right here in the USA. This case is proof of the FBI’s dedication to defend our constitutional proper,” stated Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “Authoritarian governments depend on transnational repression to form the world of their favor and stifle dissent. We stay devoted to defending the USA from all threats international and home, which incorporates efforts by international governments to stalk, harass, or intimidate the folks inside our borders.”
“The FBI San Francisco division works tirelessly to forestall efforts by international governments to suppress basic human rights, together with the free speech of dissenting voices on U.S. social media platforms,” stated Particular Agent in Cost Sean Ragan of the FBI’s San Francisco Subject Workplace. “This verdict reaffirms the FBI’s dedication to stopping transnational repression from any international authorities and sends a transparent message that justice will probably be delivered to those that threaten the freedoms of an open society.”
Based on the proof offered at trial, Abouammo started receiving bribes from an official of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as early as December 2014. The international official met with Abouammo in London and offered Abouammo with a luxurious Hublot watch. Abouammo later acknowledged the worth of the watch was $42,000 when he provided it on the market on Craigslist. After the assembly in London, Abouammo started repeatedly accessing personal details about a number of Twitter accounts, at the very least certainly one of which was an influential account who was essential of members of the Saudi Royal Household and the federal government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Abouammo additionally continued to speak with the official of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, together with relating to the influential essential account.
Proof at trial additional confirmed that after Abouammo traveled to Lebanon in February 2015. A checking account was opened within the title of his father in Lebanon and Abouammo obtained entry to that checking account. The account then acquired $100,000 from the official of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Abouammo laundered the cash by sending it into the USA in small wire transfers with false descriptions. Abouammo left his job at Twitter in Could 2021 and, shortly thereafter, acquired one other $100,000 into the checking account in Lebanon accompanied by a be aware from the official apologizing for the delayed cost. Abouammo responded, partially, by asking whether or not the official wished any extra info from Twitter.
In October 2018, FBI brokers interviewed Abouammo at his residence about his involvement within the scheme with officers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Proof at trial demonstrated that Abouammo offered false info to the FBI investigators and falsified an bill for one of many funds he acquired from the international official.
Abouammo was arrested on Nov. 5, 2019. On July 28, 2020, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging him with performing as an agent of a international authorities with out offering discover to the Legal professional Basic; conspiracy to commit wire fraud and trustworthy providers fraud; six counts of trustworthy providers fraud and wire fraud; worldwide cash laundering; and falsification of data in a federal investigation. The jury acquitted Abouammo of 5 of the counts pertaining to wire fraud and trustworthy providers fraud. The jury returned a verdict of responsible on all of the remaining counts….
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin Sampson and Eric Cheng for the Northern District of California and Trial Legal professional Christine Bonomo of the Nationwide Safety Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Management Part are prosecuting the case with the help of Beth Margen and Alycee Lane. The prosecution is the results of an investigation by the FBI.