Saudi woman testifies in US trial of ex-Twitter employee accused of spying for Riyadh

A report from the Bloomberg agency revealed the details of the testimony of Saudi Arabian Areej Al-Sadhan at the trial of former Twitter employee Ahmed Abu Ammo, who is accused of spying on her brother Abdullah benefited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

According to the agency’s report, Areej was not allowed to say that Saudi detectives had kidnapped her brother, Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, because of his social media posts, and that the kingdom had sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

He also did not allow her to say that he was tortured and electrocuted with sleep deprivation, and that his captors beat him so badly that he was sent to intensive care in the hospital.

She was not even allowed to imply that a former Twitter employee, Ahmed Abouammo, was responsible for acts of violence committed by the Saudi government.

However, Areej Al-Sadhan’s testimony was a major part of the week-long US trial against Abouammo, which demonstrated his ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which has gripped domestic discord, and arrested dozens of prominent clerics, businessmen . intellectuals and activists. .

According to Bloomberg, Abouammo received bribes in exchange for personal information from Twitter users who used the platform to criticize the Saudi royal family.

Abouammo, an American citizen who left Twitter in 2015, has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including acting as an illegal foreign agent in the United States and obstruction of justice.

Abouammo faces up to 20 years in prison if the charges against him are proven.

At the hearing, state prosecutor Areej Al-Sadhan showed a document dating from April 2015 that the United States said was in the possession of Badr Al-Asaker, an aide to the Saudi crown prince.

The document was a list of about 10 people the soldiers wanted to locate.

Among the names on the list was Omar Abdulaziz, a friend of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

It is worth noting that a US intelligence assessment found that Mohammed bin Salman most likely ordered the killing of Khashoggi; But the crown prince denied any involvement in the story.

Ex-Twitter employee accused of spying for Saudi Arabia asks his trial not linked to Khashoggi’s murder

A former Twitter employee accused of helping Saudi Arabia crack down on dissidents said it was “unfair to associate him with Saudi Arabia’s human rights crimes” or the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bloomberg reports.

While no details were known about Abdulaziz, the public prosecutor asked Areej: “Is this account what you would describe as criticism of the government of Saudi Arabia?” Al-Sadhan answered yes.

She was then asked to name another name on the list, her younger brother, Abd al-Rahman al-Sadhan, whose Twitter account, according to her testimony, included “sarcastic criticism of Saudi Arabia.”

Since her brother’s disappearance, Areej Al-Sadhan has continued an international campaign to try to pressure Saudi Arabia to explain his place of detention and his condition and to release him.

Abd al-Rahman al-Sadhan was born in Saudi Arabia and lived between the kingdom and the United States, where he completed his studies, according to his sister.

He returned to Riyadh in 2014 to work for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent.

A Saudi dissident is suing Twitter over a “hack that killed several activists.”

A Saudi dissident living in the United States has said he has decided to sue the Twitter company, which he says has caused the killing and torture of whistleblowers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Areej revealed that she works in the technology sector in the Gulf region, and that she communicated with her brother regularly via phone, text messages and email, until March 2018, when he disappeared.

She told the jury: “I tried to contact him, and so did my family, not all my messages got through, which is very unusual.”

Al-Sadhan said she was not allowed to tell jurors that a Saudi appeals court upheld a 20-year prison sentence for her brother last year, citing a roughly 200-page hard copy of the tweets as “the basis for his alleged crimes.”

London-based human rights group Grant Liberty said in its 2022 report on Saudi Arabia that at least 220 people remain in prison in Saudi Arabia for speaking out against Mohammed bin Salman or calling for reform in the kingdom.

Areej al-Sadhan said that in the first year her brother was in prison, her family remained silent, and when she heard about his torture, she decided to speak out, saying that he was still detained and any family calls or denied visits.

Faced with constant threats, Areej explains her brother Abd al-Rahman’s case to officials around the world, writes opinion pieces and seeks help from human rights organizations.

“When we were silent, the worst things happened,” she said, then added, “Silence is not an answer.”

US Judiciary Expands List .. Seven New Indictments of Twitter Employees Accused of Spying for Saudi Arabia

The United States filed new espionage charges against two Twitter employees and a third person on Tuesday, after a US court dropped previous charges against them.

On July 21, the trial of Ahmed Abouammo, an American of Lebanese origin, began on charges that he worked as an agent for a foreign power in the United States.

The trial is taking place in federal court in San Francisco, California.

While at Twitter from 2013 to 2015, Abouammo was responsible for helping celebrities, journalists and other prominent figures in the Middle East promote their Twitter accounts, handling requests for blue verification badges, as well as conducting tours for them arrange to visit headquarters in San Francisco. .

But the US Justice Department says Abouammo abused access to Twitter user data, collected personal information about political opponents and transferred it to Saudi Arabia in exchange for bribes, including a luxury watch and hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the New York Times.

In 2019, the US court charged Abu Ammo and two other Saudi nationals with working as intermediaries and spying on Twitter users who criticized the royal family in Saudi Arabia.

The other two defendants are former Twitter employee Ali Al Zubara, and Ahmed Al-Mutairi, a marketing executive with ties to the royal family.

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