Like most social media platforms, Twitter’s been under increased scrutiny of late, from both its own investors and international governments. Now US-based human rights activist Ali Al-Ahmed is taking aim at the microblogging site, alleging that it allowed Saudi Arabian government spies to access his personal information.
In a 39-page lawsuit filed on Friday (via The Verge), Al-Ahmed alleges that Twitter hired a pair of new employees who spied on him on the behalf of the Saudi Arabian government. Due to their positions at the company, they were allegedly granted access to Al-Ahmed’s personal information.
The two men in Al-Ahmed’s suit reportedly faced personal legislative backlash from federal prosecutors last year for similar reasons, for “fraudulently [using] their positions and access to information at Twitter” to provide the Saudi Arabian government with users’ private information.
Al-Ahmed alleges that these same two used their positions to access and distribute his personal information to the Saudi Arabian government, and that doing so violated Twitter’s own privacy policies. Furthermore, the lawsuit explains that Al-Ahmed’s Arabic-language account has been suspended since 2018, with no explanation from the company as to why. Al-Ahmed suspects that this is to not anger the Saudi government, whom he has been a harsh critic of for some time.
As explained in the lawsuit, Al-Ahmed is one of the Saudi Arabian government’s “leading” critics, and as such he is currently living in the US under asylum to protect himself from persecution in his homeland. With Twitter being a valuable megaphone for modern activists, it wouldn’t be particularly shocking if the targets of Al-Ahmed’s activism happened to look there for a way to reach him while he isn’t physically around. He is currently seeking the reinstatement of his Arabic account and unspecified damages from Twitter.