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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.

4 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.