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US court rejects motion to drop charges against alleged Saudi spy

Twitter logo and a computer screen displaying the flag of the United States in Ankara, Turkey on 7 January 2021 [Erçin Ertürk/Anadolu Agency]
Twitter logo and a computer screen displaying the flag of the United States in Ankara, Turkey on 7 January 2021 [Erçin Ertürk/Anadolu Agency]

A federal judge in the US state of California has refused to dismiss charges against former Twitter employee Ahmad Abouammo, who is accused of spying for Saudi Arabia. The judge also rejected the motion submitted by the defence, in which his lawyer demanded dropping the other charges against his client.

Abouammo, a duel US-Lebanese citizen and father of three, was the manager of media partnerships for Twitter's Middle East and North Africa region between November 2013 and May 2015. He faces 23 criminal charges, including the use of his inside access to Twitter, obtaining information about two Saudi oppositionists without authorisation and handing it over in exchange for funds and gifts.

The defendant is also accused of lying to the FBI as he provided forged documents to show that the money he received from a Saudi official was not a bribe.

The Saudi citizen faces charges of acting as an agent of a foreign government without a license, conspiring, fraud and money laundering.

The case file indicates that Abouammo received money from a high-ranking Saudi official to access Twitter's internal systems, track down dissidents and reveal their addresses and phone numbers.

Abouammo faces 20 years in prison and a fine that may exceed $600,000 if convicted.

READ: Will the US hold Saudi Arabia to account for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

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