Buddies, household help Twitter worker charged in spy case | Enterprise



SEATTLE (AP) — Household and pals of a former Twitter worker accused of spying for Saudi Arabia name him a devoted husband and father who has overcome latest psychological well being struggles, in accordance with letters of help filed to federal courtroom.

Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen and a media partnership supervisor for Twitter’s Center East area, returns to courtroom in Seattle on Friday. Abouammo is charged with performing as an agent of Saudi Arabia with out registering with the U.S. authorities. The case marks the primary time that the dominion, lengthy linked to the U.S. by way of its huge oil reserves and regional safety preparations, has been accused of spying in America.

The seven letters — 4 from relations, together with Abouammo’s spouse, and three from former co-workers — have been filed Thursday forward of the courtroom listening to the place a decide will weigh whether or not to launch him on bail. They paint a portrait of a sort, caring man who is required at dwelling to help his household and pals.

“I urge is the courtroom to double verify all of the information, figuring out Ahmad’s character, work ethics, and having labored with him on a private degree for over two years, one thing appears not proper about this,” wrote Roy Abdo, who labored with Abouammo on the Center East Broadcasting Networks.

Abouammo’s legal professional couldn’t be reached for remark Friday morning.

Prosecutors allege Abouammo and one other former Twitter worker, Saudi citizen Ali Alzabarah, have been rewarded by Saudi royal officers with a designer watch and tens of hundreds of funneled into secret financial institution accounts.

Alzabarah and a 3rd suspect, a Saudi named Ahmed Almutairi who labored as a social media adviser for the Saudi royal household and acted as an middleman with the Twitter workers, are believed to be in Saudi Arabia. Each are needed by the FBI.

The federal grievance, unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Courtroom in San Francisco, detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi authorities officers to recruit Twitter workers to search for the personal information of accounts, together with electronic mail addresses linked to the accounts and web protocol addresses that can provide up a person’s location. The accounts included these of a preferred critic of the federal government with greater than 1 million followers and a information character. Neither was named.

Twitter stated Wednesday it cooperated in a U.S. investigation of two former workers accused of accessing private account info on behalf of the Saudi authorities.  

The San Francisco-based social media firm stated in a press release it acknowledges “the size dangerous actors will go to attempt to undermine” its service, and that there are instruments in place to guard customers with delicate accounts.

A senior Saudi official in Washington stated Thursday that “we anticipate all our residents to abide by the legal guidelines of the nations by which they dwell.” The official spoke with reporters on situation of anonymity to debate points delicate to the federal government.

On LinkedIn, Abouammo lists his current work as a digital advisor with “Cyrcl,” which Washington state information present was dissolved in 2017, in addition to a co-founder of a “new startup that can redefine social.”

He has beforehand labored at Amazon and Center East Broadcasting Networks, each firms confirmed. Nevertheless, the titles he listed on LinkedIn for these jobs didn’t match their information. His web site states he’s ending a grasp’s diploma in administration from Harvard College, which didn’t instantly affirm if he was enrolled.

In her letter to the courtroom, Abouammo’s spouse, Zeina, known as her husband “my spine, my rock, and my companion.” They’ve been married for 10 years and have three kids collectively.

Zeina Abouammo wrote that they each suffered from psychological well being points during the last 12 months, “but he was all the time sturdy and useful.” The allegations date again to 2014.

Abouammo’s sister Amani stated her brother helped her escape an abusive marriage and has taken care of her daughter, who has a number of disabilities.

“Ahmad is real, household man, and beneficiant,” his cousin Rabih Abouammo wrote. “There is no such thing as a manner that he would jeopardize all of (this) for something, he would not even must.”

One other former co-worker on the Center East Broadcasting Networks, Shirine Hossaini, instructed The Related Press he was a “actually candy, joyful, very considerate, actually reliable” man who was not political.

“I discover it actually onerous to consider Ahmad can be part of that,” she stated. “I am unable to think about anyone altering like that. That is an enormous shift if it is all true.”

Dazio reported from Los Angeles. Related Press author Ben Fox in Washington contributed.

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