An ex-Twitter employee accused of spying for Saudi Arabia has reportedly been granted bail with travel restrictions. However, the ruling was stayed after the US prosecutors lodged an appeal. Ahmad Abouammo was arrested on November 5 along with Ali Alzabarah, another Twitter employee and Ahmed Almutairi who worked for the Saudi royal family. Abouamma is reportedly charged for accessing the Twitter account of a prominent critic of the Saudi royal family back in 2015. It is believed that he was also able to view the email address and telephone number associated with the account.
Alzabarah and Almutairi are believed to be in Saudi Arabia and have been issued arrest warrants. According to the complaint, Alzabarah's accessed private data without any permission. In late 2015, he was reportedly placed on administrative leave. However, he was able to tap data from over 6,000 accounts, 33 of which Saudi authorities submitted law enforcement requests. On the other hand, Almutairi is reportedly accused of acting as a go-between for the Saudi government and the Twitter employees.
King of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud hosted the Central Investigation Agency's chief on November 7, according to Saudi Arabia's state media. The meeting was held in Riyadh which was attended by many Saudi officials including Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and intelligence chief Khalid Al-Humaidan. This comes after three people were accused in the US by spying on Twitter users who were critical of the Saudi royal family. The King and CIA Chief Gina Haspel talked on a number of topics of mutual interest according to Saudi officials. However, no official details of the meeting were disclosed.
Responding to the investigation, Twitter said in a statement to media that it realises that the former employees are going to drag down the company and undermine it. The Social Media giant apologised, saying that it understands the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. It assured the public that it has tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work.