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Two Former Twitter Employees Accused Of Spying For Saudi Arabia

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Federal prosecutors charged two former Twitter employees for spying on users on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

The charges allege that Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi national, and Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, used their access at the social media giant to gather sensitive and nonpublic information on dissidents of the Saudi government.

"We will not allow U.S. companies or U.S. technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of U.S. law," U.S. Attorney David Anderson said in a statement.

A third person, Saudi citizen Ahmed Almutairi was also charged for acting as an intermediary between the Twitter employees and Saudi officials, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Alzabarah and Almutairi are believed to be in Saudi Arabia and federal warrants have been issued for their arrests, the Justice Department said. Abouammo was arrested in Seattle on Tuesday.

"Our company limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees," Twitter said in a statement.

"We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work," Twitter said.

The U.S. President Donald Trump has maintained close ties with the kingdom despite international condemnation following the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Khashoggi was murdered during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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