A former Twitter executive convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia by sharing user data several years ago and accused of harassing users was sentenced Wednesday to 3-1/2 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Ahmed Abuammo was convicted by a jury in August after a trial in federal court in San Francisco.
Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of just over seven years, saying they wanted “a sentence strong enough to deter others in the technology and social media industries from selling the data of vulnerable users.” Abuammo was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Abouammo’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Edward Chen for probation without jail time at his home in Seattle. They cited Abuammo’s ongoing health problems from 2013 to 2015, no other criminal record, and family issues that affected him during his Twitter career.
The case focused on Abouammo’s efforts to track down information about two Twitter users, a $42,000 watch he received from a Saudi Arabian official, and $100,000 in wire transfers.
Prosecutors say Abouammo, who oversaw Twitter’s communications with journalists and celebrities in the Middle East and North Africa, provided sensitive information from the company’s systems to help Saudi authorities identify and locate individuals of interest to Twitter users, potentially exposing them to prosecution.
Abouammo’s federal public defenders did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter, which was recently acquired by Elon Musk, and the Saudi embassy in Washington also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In seeking their sentence, Abouammo’s lawyers said on Twitter that his family was “struggling to cope with and pay for the serious upheavals in his sister’s life, including paying for specialized medical care for their newborn daughter.” .
The lawyers also said Abuammo’s actions paled in comparison to those of another former Twitter employee, Ali Alzabara, who was accused of accessing thousands of Twitter accounts on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Alzabara left the US before being charged.