The social media company formerly known as Twitter has been accused in a revised civil US lawsuit of helping Saudi Arabia commit grave human rights abuses against its users, including by disclosing confidential user data at the request of Saudi authorities at a much higher rate than it has for the US, UK or Canada.
The lawsuit was brought last May against X, as Twitter is now known, by Areej al-Sadhan, the sister of a Saudi aid worker who was forcibly disappeared and then later sentenced to 20 years in jail.
It centers on the events surrounding the infiltration of the California company by three Saudi agents, two of whom were posing as Twitter employees in 2014 and 2015, which ultimately led to the arrest of al-Sadhan’s brother, Abdulrahman, and the exposure of the identity of thousands of anonymous Twitter users, some of whom were later reportedly detained and tortured as part of the government’s crackdown on dissent.
Lawyers for Al-Sadhan updated their claim last week to include new allegations about how Twitter, under the leadership of then chief executive Jack Dorsey, willfully ignored or had knowledge of the Saudi government’s campaign to ferret out critics but – because of financial considerations and efforts to keep close ties to the Saudi government, a top investor in the company – provided assistance to the kingdom.
The new lawsuit details how X had originally been seen seen as a critical vehicle for democratic movements during the Arab spring, and therefore became a source of concern for the Saudi government as early as 2013.
The new legal filing comes days after Human Rights Watch condemned a Saudi court for sentencing a man to death based solely on his Twitter and YouTube activity, which it called an “escalation” of the government’s crackdown on freedom of expression. [Continue reading…]