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Former Twitter employee convicted in Saudi spy case

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SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK — The former manager of Twitter Inc, who has been charged with spying for Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday that he acted as an agent for the state and received payments from officials with ties to the Saudi government. He was convicted on six counts, including trying to impersonate a royal family.

Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S.-Lebanese dual citizen who helped oversee relations with journalists and celebrities in the Middle East and North Africa on Twitter, spent his two-and-a-half weeks in San Francisco federal court. convicted after a trial.

A jury acquitted him on five of the 11 counts he faced.

A federal attorney representing Abouammo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Twitter declined to comment.

Prosecutors have found that Badel Al-Asaker, an aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, used insider knowledge to gain access to a Twitter account and accuse Saudi dissidents. He said he hired Abuanmo to dig up personal information about the sect.

These accounts include the pseudonym @ It is said to have contained mujtahidd.

Prosecutors said that Abouammo received at least his $300,000 and his $20,000 luxury watch from his Al-Asaker, deposited the money into the accounts of relatives in Lebanon, and made his own in the United States. He said he hid it by wire transfer to his account.

The defense attorney argued that the work Abouammo did on his Twitter was simply part of his work.

Abouammo was also found guilty of wire fraud, good faith service fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

"The government proved that Abouammo violated a sacred trust to protect personal information from his Twitter customers and sold their customers' personal information to foreign governments, a jury found said San Francisco U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hines. statement.

Ali Alzabarah, a former colleague of Abouammo who was also accused of accessing his Twitter account on behalf of Saudi Arabia, left the United States before being charged. Saudi Crown Prince Al Asaker and Twitter are not among the defendants. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, New York and Katie Paul, San Francisco; Editing by Stephen Coates)