Human rights activist suing Twitter for allegedly giving Saudi spies access to his info

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A Saudi human rights activist has filed a lawsuit against Twitter, alleging that the company hired two people who spied on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia and accessed his personal information.

Ali Al-Ahmed, head of the human rights advocacy organization Institute for Gulf Affairs, has frequently been critical of the Saudi government. Twitter, Al-Ahmed claims, did not have the right to disclose or share his private information under its own privacy policy and should have done more to protect his information. He names two men in the suit who were indicted last year (.pdf) by federal prosecutors for working as agents of the Saudi government while working for Twitter several years ago.

Al-Ahmed also claims in the lawsuit that his Twitter account was suspended in 2018 without explanation and has yet to be reinstated despite repeated appeals. The lawsuit alleges that the company has kept Al-Ahmed’s Arabic-language account inaccessible so as not to displease the Saudi government.

“While Twitter may wish to play the victim of state-sponsored espionage, Twitter’s conduct in punishing the victims of this intrigue, including Mr. Al-Ahmed, tells a far different story: one of ratification, complicity, and/or adoption tailored to appease a neigh beneficial owner and preserve access to a key market, the [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia],” the complaint states.

Al-Ahmed is seeking reinstatement of his Arabic-language Twitter account and unspecified damages.

Twitter declined to comment Friday.

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