A reworked legal case filed in the United States accuses X, previously known as Twitter, of assisting Saudi Arabia in committing severe human rights violations against its users.
Areej al-Sadhan, the sister of a Saudi aid worker who was “forcibly disappeared” and sentenced to 20 years in jail, has filed a lawsuit alleging that three Saudi agents infiltrated the California company. This resulted in the arrest of al-Sadhan’s brother and the unmasking of 1000s of anonymous Twitter users, some of whom were detained and tortured.
Legal representation for Al-Sadhan has revised its argument that Twitter had a part in the Saudi government’s attempt to root out opponents, saying that Twitter either wilfully disregarded or was aware of the program. The complaint describes how Twitter, led by CEO Jack Dorsey, helped the Saudi government because of financial links and the need to preserve good relations with the Saudi government, a significant investment in Twitter.
When Ahmad Abouammo, who was subsequently jailed in the United States for operating as a covert Saudi agent and lying to the FBI, started accessing and transferring personal user data to Saudi Arabian authorities in December 2014, this set in motion the Saudi crackdown. According to the complaint, Abouammo used Facebook’s messaging system to send a message to Mohammed bin Salman’s trusted advisor, Saud al-Qahtani, in which he allegedly said, “We will delete evil.”
The complaint claims Twitter had “ample warning” of security threats to internal personal data and the possibility of insiders gaining unauthorized access. Twitter is accused of granting demands from the monarchy for user data “much more frequently” than from other nations, including Canada, the United Monarchy, Australia, and Spain.
Alzabarah, now a fugitive in Saudi Arabia, was promoted by Twitter on November 5, 2015, only days before the FBI contacted the firm about its worries about a Saudi infiltration of the company. In reply, Alzabarah sent a memo to al-Asaker, his contact in the Saudi administration, expressing his “unimaginable satisfaction” at being promoted. Twitter placed Alzabarah on leave and seized his laptop after the FBI voiced its concerns; nevertheless, the company did not take anything against Alzabarah’s phone, which he has often used to communicate with Saudi government officials.