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Senator Chris Murphy calls for probe into Saudi Arabia’s stake in Twitter

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) demanded on Monday that Congress look into the national security ramifications of a Saudi Arabian corporation continuing to hold a stake in Twitter in the wake of Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the social media network.

Despite frequently suppressing political opposition, Saudi Arabia continues to keep a sizable investment in the social media site through a holding company that is partially owned by the nation’s sovereign wealth fund.

Musk has highlighted that concerns about free speech were the driving force behind his acquisition of Twitter, but he has also stated that the social media giant should abide by the laws governing freedom of expression in the nation in which it is based.

That would include Saudi Arabia, which has the eighth-highest number of Twitter users globally but also has relatively weak protections for free speech.

By the numbers: After Musk concluded the acquisition, the Kingdom Holding Business, founded by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and still chaired by him, announced the company will continue to own Twitter shares valued at $1.89 billion, making it Twitter’s second-largest investor.

16.9% of the Kingdom Holding Company is owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is run by crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).

He continued, “We should be concerned that the Saudis are now the second-largest owner of a significant social media site, who have a clear interest in limiting political expression and harming U.S. politics. The Committee on Foreign Investment should conduct a review since there is a clear national security problem at hand.

An ex-employee of Twitter who was charged with spying for Saudi Arabia by gathering information about the social media platform’s users and passing it along to Saudi government authorities was found guilty of these crimes earlier this year.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State also acknowledged that the monarchy had jailed American Saad Ibrahim Almadi for 16 years for tweeting against the Saudi regime.

According to The Guardian, Salma al-Shehab was given a 34-year prison sentence earlier this year for having a Twitter account, as well as for following and retweeting activists and dissidents who were critical of the Saudi government.

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and journalist for the Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and had his body dismembered, according to an unclassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released last year.

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