The US Department of Justice on Wednesday imposed charges on two former Twitter employees for committing espionage on behalf of Saudi Arabia.
According to the charges, Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo used their employee credentials in order to gain access to data (birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, internet protocol addresses) about particular Twitter users.
The Justice Department also charged another person, Ahmed Almutairi, who had allegedly acted as an intermediary between the two Twitter employees and the Saudi Arabia government.
Twitter shares closed lower for a third consecutive trading session in New York on Thursday. It has also been the steepest daily loss since October 24th. The stock went down 1.66% ($0.49) to $29.05, after touching an intraday low at $28.64, or a price level not seen since January 4th ($28.31).
Shares of Twitter Inc have risen 1.08% so far this year, following a 19.70% surge in 2018.
Abouammo, a US citizen, served as media partnerships manager for the Middle East region and North Africa at Twitter between November 2013 and May 2015.
Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen, worked as a site reliability engineer at Twitter between August 2013 and December 2015, the charges said.
It is believed that Almutairi and Alzabarah reside in Saudi Arabia, while Abouammo was arrested in Seattle earlier this week.
The three individuals are to be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $250,000. Abouammo is to face an additional sentence of 20 years in prison and an additional fine of $250,000 for lying to federal agents.
“Our company limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees,” a spokesperson for Twitter was quoted as saying by CNBC.
“We understand the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable,” the person also said.
Analyst stock price forecast and recommendation
According to CNN Money, the 38 analysts, offering 12-month forecasts regarding Twitter Inc’s stock price, have a median target of $34.25, with a high estimate of $55.00 and a low estimate of $23.00. The median estimate represents a 17.90% upside compared to the closing price of $29.05 on November 7th.
The same media also reported that at least 27 out of 43 surveyed investment analysts had rated Twitter Inc’s stock as “Hold”, while 10 – as “Buy”. On the other hand, 5 analysts had recommended selling the stock.