Twitter has been sued for conspiring with the government of Saudi Arabia to shut down accounts of political opposition figures. The press release is below.
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ –A blockbuster lawsuit has been filed against Twitter by the law firm of Gerstman Schwartz LLP in the Southern District of New York on behalf of the Executive Director of the Institute of Gulf Affairs Ali-Ahmed.
The lawsuit alleges that Twitter violated the Stored Communications Act by intentionally accessing Al-Ahmed’s stored messages without authorization. Under a blatant tortious invasion of privacy, Twitter suspended the accounts of Al-Ahmed and many of his 36,000 followers and sent their confidential information and direct messages to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
By authorizing the direct transmission to the Government of Saudi Arabia (GSA) of identifying information of its critics, Twitter is responsible for several of Al-Ahmed’s contacts being arrested and tortured by the GSA. In an email to Twitter, Al-Ahmed wrote: “People that I keep in contact with via twitter alone have been arrested and now being tortured by the Saudi monarchy henchmen.”
In addition to the consequences of violating their own policies in unlawfully providing private information to a foreign government, “Twitter is liable for negligence by a complete lack of supervision of these employees,” said David Schwartz, attorney for Al-Ahmed. “Because of the total lack of screening, restrictions and intervention, Twitter was a part of these efforts to silence Al-Ahmed and his large following for speaking out against the Saudi government,” Schwartz added.
Entities controlled by the GSA are among Twitter’s largest shareholders.
According to the lawsuit, with this influence, Saudi Arabian spies entered the company and were given unrestricted and unmonitored access to Twitter’s resources. Operating at the direction of the GSA, Twitter employees illegally mined Twitter’s internal system to get personal data and information on Saudi critics, including Al-Ahmed. The GSA was therefore able to silence Al-Ahmed and damage the pro-democracy movement in Saudi Arabia by shutting down not only his account, but the accounts of many of his 36,000 followers as well.
The true intentions of Twitter in unlawfully suspending Al-Ahmed’s account have been exposed in this lawsuit. The conspiracy of Twitter employees and the GSA to silence its critics has been made abundantly clear. It is not only a violation of Twitter’s own Terms of Service Agreements, but also a blatant breach of contract.
The lawsuit also alleges, as a consequence of knowingly suspending his account without justification, Twitter caused economic harm to Al-Ahmed. Furthermore, Twitter is responsible for its role in illegally abetting Saudi efforts to silence and demolish personal and business relations of Al-Ahmed, who simply voiced his opinion on the regime, without prejudice to any existing Twitter policies. To the contrary, Twitter employees were acting on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in violation of all confidentiality agreements and existing company policies.
Ali Al-Ahmed is a Saudi scholar and expert on Saudi political affairs. He has exposed major news stories such as the Pentagon’s botched translation of the 9-11 Bin Laden tape and the video of Daniel Pearl’s murder. He has authored numerous reports on religious freedom, press freedom and extremism in Saudi Arabia.
The Government of Saudi Arabia has responded to this outspoken voice of conscience by stripping Al-Ahmed of his citizenship & seizing his passport, forcing him to seek asylum in the United States and mounting kidnapping and assassination attempts against him.