Three Charged in US With Spying on Twitter Users for Saudi Arabia
The US Justice Department is charging three individuals, two of which are former Twitter employees, of conducting espionage targeting users of the social media platform who criticized the Saudi royal family. Two of the suspects are Saudi nationals, while the third is a US citizen.
The campaign was allegedly orchestrated by a Saudi official working for a member of the royal family. The identities of these two individuals were not disclosed, although the Washington Post reported that the royal family member was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. US Attorney David Anderson said that “the criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users.” Anderson warned that the US government “will not allow US companies or US technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of US law.”
The indictments are bound to further complicate US-Saudi relations, which have been strained since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who worked for the Washington Post, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October of last year. In the wake of that incident, reports surfaced showing that a CIA assessment concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.