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Saudi scholar to sue Twitter over alleged leak that led to dissidents being executed and tortured

A SAUDI scholar says he is suing Twitter for an alleged leak that has been blamed for the execution and torture of scores of activists in Saudi Arabia.

Ali al-Ahmed, co-founder of the US-based Institute for Gulf Affairs think tank, says he has filed a lawsuit against the social media giant after the identities of people exposing human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia via the platform were allegedly revealed.

“It is very distressing and it really hurts me greatly because I know some of them have died, many have been tortured, and remain behind bars,” he told the Business Insider news site this week.

In July, Saudi nationals Ahmad Abouammo and Ali al-Zabarah were charged by US prosecutors for “spying for a foreign government.”

The pair worked for Twitter between 2013 and 2016. They are accused of passing on details, including email addresses and phone numbers, of accounts critical of the Saudi government to the Gulf state’s intelligence services.

Speaking last July, Mr Ahmed’s lawyer David Schwartz said: “Twitter is responsible for several of al-Ahmed’s contacts being arrested and tortured by the [government of Saudi Arabia].”

Dozens of people who were in contact with Mr Ahmed are believed to have disappeared since the data breach is said to have occurred.

One of those killed was a founder of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, Abdullah al-Hamid, who died in custody in April.

A long-time opponent of the Saudi government, Mr Ahmed became the youngest person to be jailed by the reactionary kingdom in 1980, aged just 14.

In 2018 he was contacted for an interview by somebody claiming to be the secretary to the BBC’s editor-in-chief.

An AP investigation revealed that the BBC had not approached Mr Ahmed and that the incident was most likely a bid to trick him into downloading spyware onto his phone.

Twitter was contacted by the Morning Star but declined to comment.


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