Saudi Arabia Recruits Twitter Employees Charged For Spying

Saudi Arabia Recruits Twitter Employees Charged For Spying

By Staff, Agencies

The Saudi government, frustrated by growing criticism of its leaders and policies on social media, recruited two Twitter employees to gather confidential personal information on thousands of accounts that included prominent opponents, prosecutors announced on Wednesday.

Twitter

The complaint unsealed in US District Court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi government officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of Twitter accounts, including email addresses linked to the accounts and internet protocol addresses that can give up a user’s location.

The accounts included those of a popular critic of the government with more than one million followers and a news personality. Neither was named.

Two Saudi citizens and one US citizen worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the government in Riyadh and the royal family, the US justice department said.

According to a court filing, they were guided by an unnamed Saudi official who worked for someone prosecutors designated “Royal Family Member-1,” which The Washington Post reported was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or MBS as he is commonly known.

Those charged were Twitter employees Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, along with Ahmed Almutairi, a marketing official with ties to the royal family.

“The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” said US lawyer David Anderson.

“US law protects US companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion. We will not allow US companies or US technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of US law,” he said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes as US-Saudi relations continue to suffer strains over the brutal, Riyadh-sanctioned murder one year ago of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for, among others, The Washington Post newspaper

A critic of MBS, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

According to the Post, US intelligence has concluded that the prince himself was closely linked to the murder.

The criminal allegations reveal the extent the Saudi government went to control the flow of information on Twitter, said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher with Human Rights Watch.

Two Former Twitter Employees Accused of Spying for Saudi Arabia

HRW Highlights «Deepening Repression» Under Saudi’s MBS

HRW Highlights «Deepening Repression» Under Saudi’s MBS

By Staff, Agencies

Human Rights Watch says Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s [MBS] rise to power two years ago has been accompanied by “deepening repression and abusive practices” across the kingdom.

In a new report released on Monday, the New York-based group said activists, clerics and other perceived critics of the Saudi crown prince continue to be arbitrarily detained more than a year after the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s consulate in Turkey.

The report noted the detention of dissidents and harassment of their families was not a new phenomenon in the kingdom history, but the wave of repression since late 2017 had been distinguished by new repressive measures.

“Detaining citizens for peaceful criticism of the government’s policies or human rights advocacy is not a new phenomenon in Saudi Arabia,” it said.

“But what has made the post-2017 arrest waves notable and different, however, is the sheer number and range of individuals targeted over a short period of time as well as the introduction of new repressive practices.”

The crackdown under MBS began in September 2017 with the arrest of dozens of critics and rights activists in what was widely interpreted as an attempt to crush dissent.

The crown prince has also been on a modernization drive with reforms including allowing women over 21 to obtain passports and travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian.

But these reforms have belied a “darker reality,” according to the report, including the mass arrests of women’s rights activists, a number of whom have allegedly been sexually assaulted and suffered torture including whipping and electric shocks.

The report also said those reforms were a smokescreen for the ongoing detention of dozens of dissidents, some allegedly tortured in custody.

“Important social reforms enacted under Prince Mohammed have been accompanied by deepening repression and abusive practices meant to silence dissidents and critics.”

According to the report, the new repressive measure by MBS included extorting financial assets in exchange for a detainee’s freedom, a tool used against dozens of business people and royal family members arbitrarily held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh in November 2017.

Hundreds of elite princes and businessmen were then detained in what was billed as a move against corruption that was draining state coffers.

HRW cited reports that Saudi Arabia has used surveillance technologies to hack into the online accounts of the regime critics and infected their mobile phones with spyware.

The report also highlighted a lack of accountability for those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, a crime MBS has sought to distance himself from.

A UN report released in June said there was “credible evidence” MBS and other senior Saudi officials were liable for Khashoggi’s killing, which the kingdom has characterized as a rogue operation by its agents.

But the international criticism has failed to halt a campaign against perceived dissidents inside the kingdom, according to the HRW report, with waves of arrests carried out against women’s rights activists and their allies this year, including the writer Khadijah al-Harbi, who was pregnant at the time of her detention.

Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

 

Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

Farhan Mujahid Chak

Kashmir, genocide and the spirit of resistance

NGO Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert on Kashmir [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 August, 2019

Genocide Watch lists Ten Stages of the genocidal process. Now, Kashmir exhibits all those stages, especially when considering India’s current horrendous onslaught on Kashmiri civil liberties, writes Farhan Mujahid Chak.
What is so revolting about tyranny that it stirs the human spirit in such a way, compelling us to resist? Instinctively, the thought of oppression pierces at the very essence of our human condition.

Film, music, art and literature all celebrate those who, with an unconquerable will, struggle against all odds and defy persecution.

Yet, victory is no easy feat.

Throughout history one will find countless substantiations that victory comes from the esprit de résistance. And, prominent English author George Orwell’s evocative short story Animal Farm applauds just that, while reprimanding despotism.

Is it not crystal clear, then, comrades, that all the evils of this life of ours spring from the tyranny of human beings? Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own… What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion!”For Orwell, subjugation must be resisted, since acquiescence only prolongs suffering; there can be no two-minds about it.

With that thought, consider India’s settler-colonial project and unilateral, illegal and undemocratic revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy by abrogating article 370.

Condemned worldwide, reputable NGO’s such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all strongly chastised India.

Recently, the United Nations convened an emergency Security Council meeting, the first in over 50 years, on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir calling for respect of relevant UN resolutions.

More pecifically, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern at the ongoing human rights situation and David Haye, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression described the situation in Kashmir as ‘draconian’.

Yet, most terrifyingly, the renowned NGO Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert on Kashmir – the first ever. This, in the backdrop of Modi, and other BJP leaders, monstrously using the grotesque term ‘Final Solution’ for Kashmir

Strictly, Genocide Watch lists Ten Stages of the genocidal process. Now, Kashmir exhibits all those stages, especially when considering India’s current horrendous onslaught on Kashmiri civil liberties, terrorising the entire population, cutting off all of their communication, flouting international law and norms, and conducting a litany of human rights abuses.First, an unforgiving binary of ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ labelled ‘classification,’ is disseminated.

In Kashmir, the Indian state translates “us” into supporters of their army/occupation forces, and ‘them’ to Kashmiri Muslims. Of course, preventative measures would include fostering universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic/racial divisions and actively promoting inclusion.

In Kashmir, the Indian state translates ‘us’ into supporters of their army/occupation forces, and ‘them’ to Kashmiri Muslims

Yet, this is precisely what the fascist Bhartiya Janata Party does not want. They need to spread the false threat of terror to rationalise their persecution.

Second, symbolisation’ is the process when, combined with visceral hate, symbols are forced upon unwilling members of the purported pariah group: such as the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge or Kashmiri Muslims with their distinctive language and apparel being issued ID cards designating them as Muslims.

Third, the genocidal project moves forward by clear ‘discrimination’ in which the dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny Kashmiri Muslims basic rights.

It is driven by an exclusionary ideology and legitimises the victimisation of Kashmiri Muslims by labels of such as ‘separatist’ ‘fanatic’ and ‘terrorist.’

Fourth, heightened levels of bias, prejudice and disempowerment lead to the ‘dehumanisation’ stage, which incapacitates the normal human revulsion against murder.

Heightened levels of bias, prejudice and disempowerment lead to the ‘dehumanisation’ stage, which incapacitates the normal human revulsion against murder

At this stage, hate propaganda in print, on hate radios, and in social media is used to vilify the victim group – Kashmiri Muslims. It is even incorporated into Hindutva school textbooks, preparing the way for incitement.

Fifth, the grotesque phenomenon of genocide is always well-planned and requires ‘organisation.’ This is done by the Indian state, that uses Hindutva militias to provide deniability of state responsibility – such as Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants, who may be disguised as the additional 38,000 India soldiers being sent to Kashmir.

Recall, that there are already nearly 700,000 heavily armed Indian Army troops and police that dominate Kashmir. Why send more?

Sixth, extremists need to enhance ‘polarisation’ – in order to drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarising propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction.

Hindutva extremists target moderates – from all religions/backgrounds, intimidating and silencing the centre. Moderates from the perpetrators’ own group are most able to stop genocide. For this reason, all those who had previously been dealing with the Indian state are now under arrest, including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

Seventh, at this ‘preparation’ stage, BJP leaders have, chillingly, spoken about the “Final Solution” which they use as euphemisms to cloak their intentions of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Eighth, as the stages of genocide advance, ‘persecution’ is heightened. The victim group’s most basic human rights are systematically violated through extrajudicial killings, rape torture and forced displacement.

Death lists are drawn up and property is expropriated. Currently, Kashmiri Muslims are locked down, subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, rape, and murder.

The victim group’s most basic human rights are systematically violated through extrajudicial killings, rape torture and forced displacement

Ninth, ‘extermination’ begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” At this terrifying moment, the armed forces often work with RSS militias to do the killing.

Tenth, the final stage ‘denial’ lasts throughout the entire genocidal process. It is among the surest indicators of the likelihood of genocidal massacres.

The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. All the while they claim all is normal in Kashmir. In Kashmir, the denial has gone to such laughable levels that Modi and the BJP say their goals are to “bring prosperity and development” and to “end terrorism.”

Most worrisome, India is declaring to the world that they have begun to gradually ease the communications blockade. That is false.

This cowardly rhetoric of disingenuous ‘easing’ of the lockdown is used to deflect international attention. A total internet, land-line and communication ‘blackout’ is ongoing. And, ominously, foreshadows something more sinister forthcoming. That is, the real possibility of genocide in Kashmir.

Yet, amid these awful scenes of death, desolation and despair, Kashmiris have only become emboldened with the spirit of ‘rebellion’.

There is no other choice. Faced with an unruly, unforgiving adversary, all must unite.

Farhan Mujahid Chak is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Qatar University.

HRW: US-Saudi Aggression Warships Deliberately Attack Fishing Boats, Amount to War Crime

News – Yemen

US-Saudi aggression naval forces have carried out at least five deadly attacks on Yemeni fishing boats since 2018, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. Aggression warships and helicopters have been involved in attacks that killed at least 47 Yemeni fishermen, including 7 children, and the detention of more than 100 others, some of whom were tortured in custody in Saudi Arabia.

The aggression attacks on fishermen and fishing boats appear to be deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects in violation of the laws of war. US-Saudi Aggression officials who ordered or carried out the attacks or tortured detainees are most likely responsible for war crimes, HRW said in a report.

“Coalition naval forces repeatedly attacked Yemeni fishing boats and Yemeni fishermen without any apparent determination that they were valid military targets,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “Gunning down fishermen waving white cloths or leaving shipwrecked crew members to drown are war crimes.”

The report indicated that Human Rights Watch  interviewed survivors, witnesses, and knowledgeable sources about seven fishing boat attacks: six in 2018 and one in 2016. Civilians died in five of them. After they gathered there, aggression forces opened fire with light weapons, killing or wounding several men and boys.

Warships and helicopters were involved in the attacks from short distances away, so the civilian nature of the fishing boats should have been clear. it added. The fishermen waved white cloths, raised their hands, or otherwise showed they posed no threat. In three attacks, aggression forces did not attempt to rescue men adrift at sea, and many drowned.

A fisherman described the attack on his boat: “The helicopter was close, about three meters up. They said [over a megaphone] ‘go forward,’ and four or five [fishermen] went forward, and the rest were near the [boat’s] stern. I was in the middle. Then they hit us with the big gun with bullets.” Seven fishermen died.

The US-Saudi aggression also detained, without charge, at least 115 fishermen, including 3 children, in Saudi Arabia for between 40 days and more than two-and-a-half years, HRW said. Seven former detainees said that Saudi authorities tortured and ill-treated apprehended fishermen and boat crew members and denied them contact with their families, legal counsel, and Yemeni pro-aggression government representatives.

The attacks and detentions severely affected remote fishing communities that lost the primary earners for dozens of families. They have also deterred other fishermen from going to sea. “Before the war, fishing was good,” said the wife of a fisherman. “But we heard that eight men from the neighborhood next to us were killed … so [my husband] stopped going.”

The San Remo Manual on Armed Conflict at Sea, which is widely viewed as reflecting customary laws of war at sea, requires attacking forces to do everything feasible to limit attacks to military targets. Vessels are presumed to be civilian unless they are carrying military equipment or presenting an immediate threat to the attacking vessel. “Small coastal fishing vessels” are specifically exempt from attacks. These vessels must submit to identification and inspection when required, and follow orders, including orders to stop or move out of the way. The laws of war also place a duty on parties to the conflict, whenever circumstances permit but particularly after an engagement, to take all possible measures to search for and collect the wounded and shipwrecked.

The US-Saudi aggression has consistently failed to investigate alleged war crimes and other unlawful attacks, including the attacks on fishing boats, HRW said. No coalition personnel are known to have been disciplined or prosecuted for attacking Yemeni fishing boats.

 Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and France should immediately cease all sales and transfers of weapons, including warships and helicopters, to Saudi Arabia, and should carefully review sales to coalition members given the possibility they could be used in committing violations, Human Rights Watch said.

“The naval attacks on Yemeni fishing boats make it clear that the Saudi-led coalition is not only killing civilians through countless illegal airstrikes, but also while conducting operations at sea,” Motaparthy said. “How much more proof do countries continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia need to stop all sales, including of warships, or risk becoming complicit in war crimes.”

Leading a coalition of its allies, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the former regime, which had been friendly to Riyadh, but whose officials fled the country.

The coalition has also imposed a naval blockade of Yemen. The aggression is estimated to have left 56,000 Yemenis dead.

The US-Saudi aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

#Yemen #US_Saudi_Aggression #Human_Rights_Watch #Fishermen

See also

‘Israel’ Burying Nuclear Waste in Syria’s Golan

‘Israel’ Burying Nuclear Waste in Syria’s Golan

By Staff, Agencies

UN chief Antonio Guterres will unveil a report which accuses the Zionist ‘Israeli’ entity of burying radioactive nuclear waste in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Guterres will submit the report – which is based on Syria’s charges against ‘Israel’ – to the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC] at the panel’s 40th session, set to open in Geneva Monday and run through March 22.

“The Syrian Arab Republic noted that ‘Israel’ continued to bury nuclear waste with radioactive content in 20 different areas populated by Syrian citizens of the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly in the vicinity of al-Sheikh Mountain,” the report says.

“The practice has put the lives and health of Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan in jeopardy, and constituted a serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” it added.

The Zionist regime is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, but its policy is to neither confirm nor deny having atomic bombs. The regime is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

However, it is not a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], whose aim is to prevent the spread of nuclear arms and weapons technology.

The UN report further accuses ‘Israel’ of “providing logistical support to terrorist groups,” such as the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

It is providing terrorist groups with weapons, ammunition, money and medical care to frighten the local population and to maintain a no-go zone along the Syrian border.

The report also censures ‘Israel’s’ decision “to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan” as “null and void and without international legal effect,” calling on the occupation’s regime to “rescind forthwith its decision”.

The report drew an angry reaction from the Zionist entity, with its foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon claiming it is an “another false report from the UNHRC which specializes in attacking ‘Israel’.”

Airbnb Removes Israeli Settlement Listings

By Stephen Lendman
Source

US-based Airbnb runs a global online marketplace/hospitality service, letting members arrange or offer lodging, mainly homestays in residences of locals in cities where they travel.

Company revenue comes from commissions on bookings – none henceforth from removed Israeli settlement listings.

Airbnb yielded to years of pressure from Palestinian human rights groups. About 200 West Bank housing listings will be removed, a company statement saying the following:

“(M)any in the global community have stated that companies should not do business (in Israeli settlements) because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced.”

“We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Delistings will take place in the coming days, according to Reuters. Human Rights Watch’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories, Omar Shakid, called Airbnb’s decision a “welcome step,” adding “(c)ompanies like Booking.com should follow suit.”

Under international law, Israeli settlements are flagrantly illegal – developed on stolen Palestinian land.

Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

The Hague Convention forbids occupying powers from altering occupied territory, except for military necessity, clearly not the case in the Occupied Territories.

The UN, its Security Council, the  International Court of Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and numerous human rights groups call Israeli settlements flagrantly illegal.

Longstanding equivocal US policy considers them “illegitimate,” not illegal – until Trump abandoned all pretense about Israeli/Palestinian evenhandedness, one-sidedly supporting the Jewish state, spurning fundamental Palestinian rights.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer revealed Trump regime policy on settlements, saying in 2017: 

“We don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace” – polar-opposite what’s true, clearly endorsing what’s flagrantly illegal under international law.

A formerly classified September 1967 document revealed that Israeli PM Levi Eshkol’s legal adviser Theodor Meron said “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

In April 1978, Jimmy Carter’s State Department legal advisor Herbert Hansell called settlements “inconsistent with international law.”

Ronald Reagan disagreed with the Carter administration on the illegality of settlements, calling them “unnecessarily provocative” instead. 

In 1982, Reagan called for a moratorium on settlement development, saying they’re hindrances to peace talks.

Half a century after Israel’s 1967 aggression, seizing remaining Palestinian territory it failed to occupy in 1948, including East Jerusalem, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics data indicate around 600,000 Israeli settlers occupy stolen Palestinian West Bank land. Over 200,000 other settlers live in Occupied East Jerusalem.

On July 30, 1980, the Knesset’s Jerusalem Law illegally annexed the UN-designated international city as Israel’s unified capital. 

On March 1, 1980, UN Security Council Resolution 465 declared that “all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant (Fourth Geneva) violation…and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

All Security Council resolutions are binding international law. In America, they’re also constitutional law under the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2).

On July 4, 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development (and) have been established in breach of international law.”

Since establishment of the Jewish state in May 1948, its ruling authorities have systematically and repeatedly breached international laws, norm and standards unaccountably.

Israeli settlers reside in 127 strategically located West Bank settlements, dozens more in East Jerusalem, settlement enclaves in Hebron, along with about 100 “settlement outposts” – established to make a contiguous Palestinian state in the Territories impossible to achieve.

Business enterprises operating in the Occupied Territories flagrantly violate international law. Airbnb’s pullout is a welcome step. 

Far more is needed from global businesses, notably numerous US and other Western corporations, operating illegally in the Territories, profiting from Israel’s flagrant abuse of power.

Settlement construction escalated under Netanyahu. Their development is the main obstacle to conflict resolution.

It’s unattainable as long as most  Palestinian land remains illegally occupied.

A Final Comment

Ahead of Airbnb’s decision to remove settlement listings, a petition by Jewish Voices for Peace, CODEPINK, and six other human rights groups called on the company “to immediately stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements.”

An online Twitter petition headlined “Tell #Airnub: #Palestinians can’t #LiveThere, So Don’t Rent There.” 

After years of equivocating, the company did the right thing. Israel isn’t pleased.

Its strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan called on Occupied Territory hosts to sue Airbnb, citing Israel’s 2011 apartheid Anti-Boybott Law as unjustifiable justification.

Who is Israa al-Ghomgham?

Who is Israa al-Ghomgham?

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