UPDATE 1-Ex-Twitter employee accused of spying for Saudi Arabia granted bond

  • In US
  • 2019-11-08 23:24:01Z
  • By Reuters

(Adds comment from prosecutor, defense, background)

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday said a former Twitter employee could be released on bond, with travel restrictions, while he awaits trial on charges of spying for Saudi Arabia.

Magistrate Judge Paula McCandlis, of the U.S. District Court in Seattle, said her decision to grant Ahmad Abouammo, 41, bond would go into effect at 4:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET), unless federal prosecutors made an appeal.

In the case of an appeal, Abouammo would stay in detention until a District Court judge made a ruling on McCandlis' decision, defense lawyer Chris Black said.

Abouammo was arrested on Tuesday and indicted on spying charges the next day, along with Ali Alzabarah, 35, another former Twitter employer, and Ahmed Almutairi, 30, who worked for the Saudi royal family.

The indictment points a public finger at Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally with warm ties to President Donald Trump despite what Amnesty International calls its restrictions on human rights and the "extrajudicial killing" of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The charges put Silicon Valley companies in the spotlight over how they protect user information, including from employees with no reason for accessing the data.

According to the complaint, Abouammo repeatedly accessed the Twitter account of a prominent critic of the Saudi royal family in early 2015. At one instance, he was able to view the email address and telephone number associated with the account. Abouammo also accessed the account of a second Saudi critic to get information.

Twitter uncovered Alzabarah's unauthorized access of private data and placed him on administrative leave in late 2015, but not before he had tapped data from over 6,000 accounts, 33 of which Saudi authorities submitted law enforcement requests on, the complaint said.

Almutairi is accused of acting as a go-between for the Saudi government and the Twitter employees.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg told the court that Abouammo, a dual citizen of the United States and Lebanon, presented a flight risk due to large sums of money he had access to from the alleged co-conspirators.

Black, the defense lawyer, said Abouammo, a Seattle resident, no longer had ties to the other two men and he should be allowed to live at home for the wellbeing of his family.

In a letter presented to the court, Abouammo's wife, Zeina, said he homeschooled their children, who suffered from depression and anxiety after being bullied at school.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Alzabarah and Almutairi, who are believed to be in Saudia Arabia. (Reporting by Eric Johnson; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Leslie Adler)


More Related News

Twitter Users Suspect Biden And Harris Dissed Kanye West With Walkout Song
Twitter Users Suspect Biden And Harris Dissed Kanye West With Walkout Song

The newly minted Democratic duo exited their first joint appearance to "Move On Up," a song West sampled in his hit, "Touch The Sky."

Republican lawmaker slams far-right conspiracy theory QAnon. Trump
Republican lawmaker slams far-right conspiracy theory QAnon. Trump's team fires back.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger condemned QAnon, saying it has "no place in Congress" on the heels of several GOP candidates who espouse the theory winning primaries.

Man Utd
Man Utd's Jones received Twitter apology after jibe

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has received an apology from Twitter after its official UK account mocked the England international. The verified @TwitterUK account took a swipe at the much-maligned Jones on Tuesday, posting: "Name a better footballer than Phil Jones". The incident came after the social media network had previously said "being the target of online abuse is not easy to deal with" on a dedicated help centre page about coping and reporting abuse.

Appeals court hears arguments on Michael Flynn case
Appeals court hears arguments on Michael Flynn case
  • US
  • 2020-08-11 22:30:00Z

The appeals court held a nearly four-hour hearing over a lower court's refusal to immediately grant the Justice Department's request to dismiss criminal charges against the former national security adviser.

Is the extra aid in unemployment benefits extended? Your money questions answered
Is the extra aid in unemployment benefits extended? Your money questions answered

When will we stop receiving the $600? Could it be extended? Your money questions, answered by USA TODAY Network financial experts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: US