Twitter has a new security concern: spying.
In a new criminal complaint, the Justice Department is accusing two ex-Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah, a U.S. citizen and a Saudi national, of amassing private information on Saudi dissidents for the government of Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” David Anderson, attorney for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges in the complaint.
Anderson and his team believe Abouammo and Alzabarah were working on behalf 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,” Anderson declared.
Abouammo was arrested in Seattle on Tuesday, and remains in U.S. custody.
Alzabarah, a Web engineer at Twitter, apparently accessed data from more than 6,000 users.
In a statement, Twitter said it already has measures in place to prevent “bad actors” from abusing its system from inside the company.
“Our company limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees,” Twitter said.
Further trying to assure users who rely on Twitter to protect their privacy, the company noted: “We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work.”
In the complaint, another Saudi, Ahmed Almutairi, is described as working as an advisor for the Saudi government and serving as a intermediate between with the two Twitter employees.