Twitter Suspends Nigerian Accounts Over Support For Alex Saab

More than half a million Twitter posts about Saab, a Colombian citizen accused by the US of operating illegal fuel and gold trading schemes to aid Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in evading sanctions, were analyzed for the study
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Twitter has deactivated the profiles of a number of Nigerian social media influencers.

Despite the fact that Twitter has not issued a statement about the mass suspension of accounts, there are reports that the suspended accounts may have tweeted in support of Alex Saab, who is wanted in the United States for money laundering.

According to a Financial Times intelligence analysis article, the Venezuelan government is using bogus Twitter accounts to manipulate public opinion and prevent authorities in Cape Verde from extraditing its chief dealmaker to the United States.

More than half a million Twitter posts about Saab, a Colombian citizen accused by the US of operating illegal fuel and gold trading schemes to aid Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in evading sanctions, were analyzed for the study.

From October 2020 to February 2021, the intelligence study looked at 547,000 tweets about Saab's case that were released in Africa and South America.

Pro-Saab Twitter traffic had increased since the new year and “the primer driver of that increase appears to be the deployment of Nigeria-based social media influencers”, the analysis said.

“The campaign was for about a month and plenty influencers were on it,” an influencer, who wants to be anonymous, told The Guardian on Tuesday. His Twitter account was also suspended on Monday night.

Last July, Saab was charged with bribing Venezuelan officials and funneling more than $350 million to offshore accounts as part of a food initiative to help the country's hungry.

He's also accused of assisting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in arranging a trade with Iran as part of a deal that brought oil, jobs, and equipment to the country in exchange for around 9 tons of gold worth $500 million.

Saab was apprehended in Cape Verde on June 12 when his private jet came to a halt during a humanitarian trip, according to Venezuela.

Saab was in Cape Verde on a layover as part of a mission to obtain food for the government's subsidy program as well as medication for the coronavirus pandemic, according to Venezuela's foreign ministry, and his detention is part of the US's "hounding and violence against the Venezuelan people."

Saab's lawyers said that he cannot be tried in the United States because he has diplomatic immunity, and that he was detained on an Interpol "red alert" provided by US authorities while on a Venezuelan mission to Iran related to a COVID-19 relief effort.

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