Money talks: “Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s second-largest investor.”
It is noteworthy that the nefarious alliance between Saudi Arabia and Twitter that the Guardian highlights here began prior to Elon Musk taking over Twitter in 2022. Last year, Jihad Watch published this story: Something more than ‘reform’ is going on in Saudi Arabia: Twitter employee spied on users for Saudi government.
In November of last year, the Guardian also published an article warning about “possible access to users’ data could pose national security risk and could be used to target kingdom’s dissidents.” A little late.
In a scenario that is reminiscent of Shia Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia also rounds up dissidents and tortures and/or imprisons them.
This ongoing and mysterious case sheds light upon the plight of dissidents in Saudi Arabia and the role that Twitter has played. It’s mysterious because in 2021, the United States State Department “issued a statement saying it was concerned about the sentencing of a Saudi Arabian citizen known to be an ISIS sympathizer, referring to him as an ‘aid worker.’” That citizen was the same Abdulrahman al-Sadhan.
The issues involved here, however, go beyond al-Sadhan. They include the plight of dissidents in Saudi Arabia and the past wrongdoings of Twitter. These issues need elucidation regardless of who or what Abdulrahman al-Sadhan turns out to be.
by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Guardian, May 16, 2023:
A US activist has filed a racketeering lawsuit against Twitter and senior Saudi officials on behalf of her brother, a Saudi aid worker who was forcibly disappeared – and then later sentenced to 20 years in jail – for using a satirical and anonymous Twitter account to mock the Riyadh government.
The lawsuit by Areej al-Sadhan alleges that Twitter has become a “participant tool” in a campaign of transnational repression by Saudi authorities as part of the company’s effort to monetise its relationship with the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s second-largest investor, after Elon Musk.
At the heart of the case lies the story of Areej’s brother, Abdulrahman, a former aid worker with the Red Crescent who has not been seen or heard from since 2021, when a Saudi court sentenced him to 20 years in prison and a 20-year travel ban for his use of Twitter.
The lawsuit, which was filed at the US district court in the northern district of California on Tuesday, contains critical new details about Abdulrahman’s story, including that the former aid worker created his anonymous Twitter account while living in the US.
He did so, the complaint alleges, “in order to call out hypocrisy” in the kingdom’s ruling family. He then returned to Saudi in 2014, before being “kidnapped” by the kingdom’s “secret police” in March 2018.
The lawsuit accuses Twitter of turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s systematic and documented repression of critics even though reports began to circulate about the kingdom’s “malign activities” using Twitter as early as 2018.
US prosecutors have separately established that Saudi authorities illegally obtained confidential data about Twitter users between 2014 and 2015 from two covert Saudi government agents who were working for the company. The so-called Twitter spies targeted individuals like Abdulrahman, the suit alleges, who were posted critical or embarrassing information about Saudi Arabia and its royal family….
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