A federal racketeering case has been launched against the social media site, the kingdom, and several people by a humanitarian aid worker who used an anonymous Twitter account to disparage Saudi Arabia’s economy.
The worker claims there was an attempt to silence opponents abroad.
In 2018, Abdulrahman al-Sadhan was a Red Crescent employee in Riyadh when armed security personnel in plain clothes broke into the building. He was removed without a justification.
How the Saudi government connected al-Sadhan to the Twitter account is still unclear. Al-Sadhan received a 20-year prison term in April 2021 from the anti-terrorism court, where he was prosecuted, and a 20-year travel ban. Al-Sadhan has challenged the judgment.
Ahmad Abouammo, a citizen of the United States and a former media relations manager for Twitter’s Middle East region, was accused of serving as a Saudi Arabian agent without first registering with the American government in 2019.
The complaint further claimed that Saudi national Ali Alzabarah, a Twitter developer, had acquired private information about users, including their email addresses, phone numbers, and IP addresses, which can be used to pinpoint a user’s location.
Ahmed Al-Mutairi, a Saudi national, is the third person mentioned in the FBI complaint. He allegedly acted as a middleman for an undisclosed Saudi royal family member.
Abouammo was found guilty last summer of various offenses, including failing to register as a Saudi Arabian agent.
Al-Sadhan and his sister Areej al-Sadhan, a dual Saudi-American, met on Tuesday. Californian citizens filed a lawsuit against Twitter Inc. and Saudi Arabia because they are participants in a racketeering operation that aims to amplify the authoritarian rule of Saudi Arabia outside of its borders and stifle its critics.
Abouammo, Alzabarah, and Al-Mutairi are defendants in the lawsuit, which requests a jury trial.
To restrict perceived dissidents’ voice and export terror, repression, and control to the United States, the lawsuit claims that members of the “Saudi Criminal Enterprise” illegally surveilled, assassinated, tortured, vanished, abducted, demanded money from, and threatened perceived dissidents.
The Saudi government allegedly employs the Fairfax, Virginia-based defendant Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission as a vehicle to monitor, stalk, and harass dissidents and Saudi students studying in the United States who oppose the Saudi government, according to the complaint. The plaintiffs claim that before working at Twitter, Alzabarah was a SACM scholarship recipient.
“A U.S. citizen shouldn’t need to file a federal lawsuit to defend herself against Saudi Arabia’s goons, but Areej has no choice. In a statement,
Andrea J. Prasow, executive director of the Freedom Initiative, expressed hope that U.S. courts could offer them both some measure of justice and protection that is regrettably unattainable elsewhere.
Prasow brought the lawsuit to the US—District Court for California’s Northern District. The Freedom Initiative is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., representing inmates wrongly imprisoned in the Middle East and North Africa.
After purchasing Twitter last year, Elon Musk closed its public relations department. The corporation responded to a request for comment with an email that included the feces emoji.