How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter


From May 2015 until he was exposed that December, Ali lzabarah spied for the Saudi Arabian government inside Twitter, a criminal complaint from the FBI alleges

Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, a colleague on Twitter’s global media team, regularly accessed and delivered information that could’ve led Saudi intelligence to identify anonymous dissidents. While news of the allegations against them has been public since November 2019, the extent of their roles and abilities inside the company have never previously been reported. Alzabarah, Abouammo, and al-Asaker did not respond to requests for comment.

Though Azabarah fled, he and Abouammo, who remained in the US, are currently indicted in United States federal court on charges of acting as undeclared agents of the Saudi government. No matter the verdict, the case has exposed tech companies’ vulnerability to attempted foreign infiltration. One well-placed employee can potentially do extensive damage.

“The message MBS gets from the world, from powerful countries, from the international community, is that he will get away with whatever he did or will do,” Abdullah Alaoudh, a legal scholar at Georgetown University whose father is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, told BuzzFeed News. “Because he has money, he can control the process of oil. Therefore, everybody will go back to business as usual.”

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