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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a prominent spy case, U.S. prosecutors in San Francisco have greatly expanded charges against three men, including two ex-Twitter employees who allegedly worked as Saudi intelligence agents and used their Twitter credentials to gather information about dissidents on the social network.

Details: The new indictment, which replaces the original 2019 one, deepens the spying-related charges against the men and also alleges a series of financial and other crimes.

Prosecutors say that two of the men, who were based in Seattle and San Francisco at the time of their recruitment, were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by a Saudi-based operative to access data on high-profile Saudi dissidents.

  • The U.S.-based assets were not recruited by the main Saudi intelligence agencies, but by a Saudi associated with the crown prince’s “charity and private office,” according to BuzzFeed.

The big picture: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has shifted key intelligence operations to opaque entities under his personal control, as evidenced by the 2018 murder of Saudi regime critic Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, which was also carried out by units personally loyal to the crown prince.

Where it stands: Only one of the three men is currently in U.S. custody. 

  • The other formerly U.S.-based operative returned to Saudi Arabia in 2015 after Twitter became suspicious of his activities. 

The bottom line: The case underscores the greater focus in recent years by foreign intelligence services on spying in Silicon Valley.

Go deeper: Former Twitter employees charged with spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2020 - World

Countries waiting to see if Trump wins before moving on Israel normalization

The delegation lands at Israel's Ben Gurion airport. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty

The White House is attempting to leverage momentum from Israel's normalization deals with Bahrain and the UAE to get more Arab countries on board before the U.S. election.

Driving the news: President Trump wants Sudan's removal from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list to be accompanied by a pre-election announcement on Israel.

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
59 mins ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.