Twitter user sells name Israel

A Miami man claims to have sold the Twitter username @Israel for a reported six-figure amount.

Israel Meléndez, who is originally from Spain, created the account in 2007 when Twitter was a fledgling company. However abusive messages were sent to the account and he stopped using it regularly.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper Público, Mr Meléndez said that the Israeli government had asked to buy the name from him.

The Israeli foreign ministry, which was operating as @israelMFA, became @israel last month.

Mr Meléndez said: “I had not used it at all for months.”

In August Twitter users wrongly spread the rumour that former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon had died, forcing the hospital where he is still in a coma to issue a denial.

Last updated: 4:17pm, September 15 2010