A former employee of Twitter was found guilty on Tuesday of having spied on users of the social network to Saudi Arabia who wanted to know the identity of people critical of the regime and the royal family.

A jury in a San Francisco court found that Ahmad Abouammo sold personal information of anonymous users to Riyadh in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.

The man could be sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison for operating for a foreign government and money laundering, fraud and forgery of documents. His sentence will be pronounced later.

“The evidence showed that, for money and while he was thinking of doing it in a hidden way, the defendant sold his position” from a Twitter employee to a person close to the royal family of Saudi Arabia, federal prosecutor Colin Sampson told a jury last week after a two-week trial.

The verdict comes after human rights advocates criticized US President Joe Biden for changing his stance on Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, whom he banned from treating as a “pariah” after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate. from Saudi Arabia in Turkey in 2018.

Numerous NGOs regularly accuse the Saudi regime of spying on, kidnapping and torturing dissidents, which Riyadh denies.

Ahmad Abouammo was arrested in Seattle in November 2019 for the espionage case that began in 2014 and in which another former Twitter employee, Saudi Ali Alzabarah, who fled the United States, is also accused.

According to Abouammo’s lawyer, Angela Chuang, her client was tried instead of Alzabarah. “It is evident that the accused that the government was looking for are not here”, he declared.

Twitter told that it does not wish to comment on the verdict.

The platform accuses its former employee of not having respected the company’s rules by not declaring to his bosses that he received $100,000 and a watch worth more than $40,000 from a person close to the Saudi monarchy.

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